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1.  Targeting Persons With or At High Risk for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease by State-based Surveillance 
COPD  2015;12(6):680-689.
The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey is used to estimate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) prevalence and could be expanded to describe respiratory symptoms in the general population and to characterize persons with or at high risk for the disease. Tobacco duration and respiratory symptom questions were added to the 2012 South Carolina BRFSS. Data concerning sociodemographics, chronic illnesses, health behaviors, and respiratory symptoms were collected in 9438 adults ≥ 35 years-old. Respondents were categorized as having COPD, high risk, or low risk for the disease. High risk was defined as no self-reported COPD, ≥ 10 years’ tobacco use, and ≥ 1 respiratory symptom (frequent productive cough or shortness of breath (SOB), or breathing problems affecting activities). Prevalence of self-reported and high-risk COPD were 9.1% and 8.0%, respectively. Overall, 17.3%, 10.6%, and 5.2% of all respondents reported activities limited by breathing problems, frequent productive cough, and frequent SOB, respectively. The high-risk group was more likely than the COPD group to report a productive cough and breathing problems limiting activities as well as being current smokers, male, and African-American. Health impairment was more severe in the COPD than the high-risk group, and both were worse than the low-risk group.
Persons at high risk for COPD share many, but not all, of the characteristics of persons diagnosed with the disease. Additional questions addressing smoking duration and respiratory symptoms in the BRFSS identifies groups at high risk for having or developing COPD who may benefit from smoking cessation and case-finding interventions.
PMCID: PMC4674427  PMID: 26367193
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; population surveillance; respiratory symptoms; tobacco exposure; underdiagnosis
2.  Rationale and Design of the Genomic Research in Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency and Sarcoidosis Study. Alpha-1 Protocol 
Severe deficiency of alpha-1 antitrypsin has a highly variable clinical presentation. The Genomic Research in Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency and Sarcoidosis α1 Study is a prospective, multicenter, cross-sectional study of adults older than age 35 years with PiZZ or PiMZ alpha-1 antitrypsin genotypes. It is designed to better understand if microbial factors influence this heterogeneity. Clinical symptoms, pulmonary function testing, computed chest tomography, exercise capacity, and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) will be used to define chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) phenotypes that can be studied with an integrated systems biology approach that includes plasma proteomics; mouth, BAL, and stool microbiome and virome analysis; and blood microRNA and blood mononuclear cell RNA and DNA profiling. We will rely on global genome, transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome datasets. Matched cohorts of PiZZ participants on or off alpha-1 antitrypsin augmentation therapy, PiMZ participants not on augmentation therapy, and control participants from the Subpopulations and Intermediate Outcome Measures in COPD Study who match on FEV1 and age will be compared. In the primary analysis, we will determine if the PiZZ individuals on augmentation therapy have a difference in lower respiratory tract microbes identified compared with matched PiZZ individuals who are not on augmentation therapy. By characterizing the microbiome in alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), we hope to define new phenotypes of COPD that explain some of the diversity of clinical presentations. As a unique genetic cause of COPD, AATD may inform typical COPD pathogenesis, and better understanding of it may illuminate the complex interplay between environment and genetics. Although the biologic approaches are hypothesis generating, the results may lead to development of novel biomarkers, better understanding of COPD phenotypes, and development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic trials in AATD and COPD.
Clinical trial registered with (NCT01832220)
PMCID: PMC4627425  PMID: 26153726
lung; microbiome; phenotype; bronchoalveolar lavage; COPD; emphysema
3.  Body mass index, respiratory conditions, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory medicine  2015;109(7):851-859.
This study aims to assess the relationship of body mass index (BMI) status with respiratory conditions, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in a state population.
Self-reported data from 11,868 adults aged ≥18 years in the 2012 South Carolina Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System telephone survey were analyzed using multivariable logistic regression that accounted for the complex sampling design and adjusted for sex, age, race/ethnicity, education, smoking status, physical inactivity, and cancer history.
The distribution of BMI (kg/m2) was 1.5% for underweight (<18.5), 32.3% for normal weight (18.5-24.9), 34.6% for overweight (25.0-29.9), 26.5% for obese (30.0-39.9), and 5.1% for morbidly obese (≥40.0). Among respondents, 10.0% had frequent productive cough, 4.3% had frequent shortness of breath (SOB), 7.3% strongly agreed that SOB affected physical activity, 8.4% had current asthma, and 7.4% had COPD. Adults at extremes of body weight were more likely to report having asthma or COPD, and to report respiratory conditions. Age-adjusted U-shaped relationships of BMI categories with current asthma and strongly agreeing that SOB affected physical activity, but not U-shaped relationship with COPD, persisted after controlling for the covariates (p<0.001). Morbidly obese but not underweight or obese respondents were significantly more likely to have frequent productive cough and frequent SOB than normal weight adults after adjustment.
Our data confirm that both underweight and obesity are associated with current asthma and obesity with COPD. Increased emphasis on exercise and nutrition may improve respiratory conditions.
PMCID: PMC4487766  PMID: 26006753
Body Mass Index; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; asthma; respiratory conditions; population-based study
4.  The Social Environment and Illness Uncertainty in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Illness uncertainty is associated with worse outcomes in patients with chronic health conditions. Research on social factors associated with uncertainty has focused on the beneficial role of social support. The goal of this study was to develop a more nuanced understanding of the social factors that are associated with uncertainty.
462 individuals with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) associated chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) completed a mailed questionnaire. Measures of the social environment included general family functioning, perceived criticism from family members, whether the participant had family members with AATD or COPD, and participation in support groups. Uncertainty was measured using the Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale including subscales for ambiguity (uncertainty about physical cues and symptoms) and complexity (uncertainty about treatment and the medical system). Hierarchical regression was used to identify social correlates of ambiguity and complexity while adjusting for demographic and medical characteristics and psychological distress.
Perceived criticism was associated with more complexity (b=0.21, SE=0.09, p=0.015) and ambiguity (b=0.40, SE=0.12, p=0.001). Having a family member with AATD or COPD was associated with more ambiguity (b=3.28, SE=1.00, p=0.001). Participation in support groups was associated with less ambiguity. Individuals who attended three or more support groups in the prior year reported less ambiguity than individuals who had not attended any (b=−3.31, SE=1.29, p=0.010).
The social environment is complex and encompasses more than social support. Multiple aspects of the social environment are associated with uncertainty, including perceived criticism, having a family member with a similar illness, and participation in support groups.
PMCID: PMC4289471  PMID: 25008041
uncertainty; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD); perceived criticism; social support
5.  Patterns of Emphysema Heterogeneity 
Although lobar patterns of emphysema heterogeneity are indicative of optimal target sites for lung volume reduction (LVR) strategies, the presence of segmental, or sublobar, heterogeneity is often underappreciated.
The aim of this study was to understand lobar and segmental patterns of emphysema heterogeneity, which may more precisely indicate optimal target sites for LVR procedures.
Patterns of emphysema heterogeneity were evaluated in a representative cohort of 150 severe (GOLD stage III/IV) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients from the COPDGene study. High-resolution computerized tomography analysis software was used to measure tissue destruction throughout the lungs to compute heterogeneity (≥ 15% difference in tissue destruction) between (inter-) and within (intra-) lobes for each patient. Emphysema tissue destruction was characterized segmentally to define patterns of heterogeneity.
Segmental tissue destruction revealed interlobar heterogeneity in the left lung (57%) and right lung (52%). Intralobar heterogeneity was observed in at least one lobe of all patients. No patient presented true homogeneity at a segmental level. There was true homogeneity across both lungs in 3% of the cohort when defining heterogeneity as ≥ 30% difference in tissue destruction.
Many LVR technologies for treatment of emphysema have focused on interlobar heterogeneity and target an entire lobe per procedure. Our observations suggest that a high proportion of patients with emphysema are affected by interlobar as well as intralobar heterogeneity. These findings prompt the need for a segmental approach to LVR in the majority of patients to treat only the most diseased segments and preserve healthier ones.
PMCID: PMC4756593  PMID: 26430783
Heterogeneity; Lung volume reduction; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Bronchoscopy; Computed tomography
6.  Comparative effectiveness of budesonide/formoterol combination and tiotropium bromide among COPD patients new to these controller treatments 
Inhaled corticosteroid/long-acting β2-agonist combinations and/or long-acting muscarinic antagonists are recommended first-line therapies for preventing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbation. Comparative effectiveness of budesonide/formoterol combination (BFC, an inhaled corticosteroid/long-acting β2-agonist combination) vs tiotropium (long-acting muscarinic antagonist) in the US has not yet been studied.
Using US claims data from the HealthCore Integrated Research Environment, COPD patients (with or without comorbid asthma) ≥40 years old initiating BFC or tiotropium between March 1, 2009 and February 28, 2012 and at risk for exacerbation were identified and followed for 12 months. Patients were propensity score matched on demographics and COPD disease severity indicators. The primary outcome was time to first COPD exacerbation. Secondary outcomes included COPD exacerbation rate, health care resource utilization, and costs.
The Cox proportional hazards model for time to first exacerbation yielded a hazard ratio (HR) of 0.78 (95% CI =[0.70, 0.87], P<0.001), indicating a 22% reduction in risk of COPD exacerbation associated with initiation of BFC versus tiotropium. A post hoc sensitivity analysis found similar effects in those who had a prior asthma diagnosis (HR =0.72 [0.61, 0.86]) and those who did not (HR =0.83 [0.72, 0.96]). BFC initiation was associated with lower COPD-related health care resource utilization and costs ($4,084 per patient-year compared with $5,656 for tiotropium patients, P<0.001).
In COPD patients new to controller therapies, initiating treatment with BFC was associated with improvements in health and economic outcomes compared with tiotropium.
PMCID: PMC4592033  PMID: 26451101
COPD; inhaled corticosteroid/long-acting β2-agonist combinations; long-acting muscarinic antagonist; comparative effectiveness; administrative claims
7.  The Impact of Age on Outcomes in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Differs by Relationship Status 
Journal of behavioral medicine  2013;37(4):654-663.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) is a genetic condition that can lead to early-onset chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The objective of this study was to examine the impact of age on psychological and clinical outcomes among individuals with AATD-associated COPD. 468 individuals with AATD-associated COPD (age 32 to 84 at baseline) completed questionnaires at baseline, 1- and 2-year follow-up. Age was examined as a predictor of depression, anxiety, health-related quality of life, and breathlessness at all three time points using linear mixed models. Age was associated with anxiety (b = −0.09, SE = 0.02, p < 0.001) and health-related quality of life (b = −0.29, SE = 0.09, p < 0.001). Age also had a statistically significant interaction with relationship status when predicting depression, health-related quality of life, and breathlessness. Among individuals who were single, younger age was associated with more symptoms of depression (b = −0.08, SE = 0.03, p < 0.01), worse health-related quality of life (b = −0.61, SE = 0.16, p < 0.001), and more breathlessness (b = −0.023, SE = 0.009, p < 0.01) throughout the two-year study. Age was not associated with these three outcomes among individuals who were married/part of an unmarried couple. Results suggest that individuals who develop a chronic illness at a young age, particularly those who are single, may be more likely to have worse psychological and clinical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3772963  PMID: 23645147
Age; Relationship Status; Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; Depression; Anxiety; Clinical Outcomes
8.  Validation of an administrative claims-based diagnostic code for pneumonia in a US-based commercially insured COPD population 
To estimate the accuracy of claims-based pneumonia diagnoses in COPD patients using clinical information in medical records as the reference standard.
Selecting from a repository containing members’ data from 14 regional United States health plans, this validation study identified pneumonia diagnoses within a group of patients initiating treatment for COPD between March 1, 2009 and March 31, 2012. Patients with ≥1 claim for pneumonia (International Classification of Diseases Version 9-CM code 480.xx–486.xx) were identified during the 12 months following treatment initiation. A subset of 800 patients was randomly selected to abstract medical record data (paper based and electronic) for a target sample of 400 patients, to estimate validity within 5% margin of error. Positive predictive value (PPV) was calculated for the claims diagnosis of pneumonia relative to the reference standard, defined as a documented diagnosis in the medical record.
A total of 388 records were reviewed; 311 included a documented pneumonia diagnosis, indicating 80.2% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 75.8% to 84.0%) of claims-identified pneumonia diagnoses were validated by the medical charts. Claims-based diagnoses in inpatient or emergency departments (n=185) had greater PPV versus outpatient settings (n=203), 87.6% (95% CI: 81.9%–92.0%) versus 73.4% (95% CI: 66.8%–79.3%), respectively. Claims-diagnoses verified with paper-based charts had similar PPV as the overall study sample, 80.2% (95% CI: 71.1%–87.5%), and higher PPV than those linked to electronic medical records, 73.3% (95% CI: 65.5%–80.2%). Combined paper-based and electronic records had a higher PPV, 87.6% (95% CI: 80.9%–92.6%).
Administrative claims data indicating a diagnosis of pneumonia in COPD patients are supported by medical records. The accuracy of a medical record diagnosis of pneumonia remains unknown. With increased use of claims data in medical research, COPD researchers can study pneumonia with confidence that claims data are a valid tool when studying the safety of COPD therapies that could potentially lead to increased pneumonia susceptibility or severity.
PMCID: PMC4516198  PMID: 26229461
positive predictive value; pneumonia; validation; claims data; medical record review
9.  Smoking duration, respiratory symptoms, and COPD in adults aged ≥45 years with a smoking history 
The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship of smoking duration with respiratory symptoms and history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the South Carolina Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey in 2012.
Data from 4,135 adults aged ≥45 years with a smoking history were analyzed using multivariable logistic regression that accounted for sex, age, race/ethnicity, education, and current smoking status, as well as the complex sampling design.
The distribution of smoking duration ranged from 19.2% (1–9 years) to 36.2% (≥30 years). Among 1,454 respondents who had smoked for ≥30 years, 58.3% were current smokers, 25.0% had frequent productive cough, 11.2% had frequent shortness of breath, 16.7% strongly agreed that shortness of breath affected physical activity, and 25.6% had been diagnosed with COPD. Prevalence of COPD and each respiratory symptom was lower among former smokers who quit ≥10 years earlier compared with current smokers. Smoking duration had a linear relationship with COPD (P<0.001) and all three respiratory symptoms (P<0.001) after adjusting for smoking status and other covariates. While COPD prevalence increased with prolonged smoking duration in both men and women, women had a higher age-adjusted prevalence of COPD in the 1–9 years, 20–29 years, and ≥30 years duration periods.
These state population data confirm that prolonged tobacco use is associated with respiratory symptoms and COPD after controlling for current smoking behavior.
PMCID: PMC4516194  PMID: 26229460
tobacco use; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; respiratory symptoms; population-based study
11.  Comparative effectiveness of budesonide/formoterol combination and fluticasone/salmeterol combination among chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients new to controller treatment: a US administrative claims database study 
Respiratory Research  2015;16(1):52.
Inhaled corticosteroid/long-acting β2-agonist combinations (ICS/LABA) have emerged as first line therapies for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients with exacerbation history. No randomized clinical trial has compared exacerbation rates among COPD patients receiving budesonide/formoterol combination (BFC) and fluticasone/salmeterol combination (FSC) to date, and only limited comparative data are available. This study compared the real-world effectiveness of approved BFC and FSC treatments among matched cohorts of COPD patients in a large US managed care setting.
COPD patients (≥40 years) naive to ICS/LABA who initiated BFC or FSC treatments between 03/01/2009-03/31/2012 were identified in a geographically diverse US managed care database and followed for 12 months; index date was defined as first prescription fill date. Patients with a cancer diagnosis or chronic (≥180 days) oral corticosteroid (OCS) use within 12 months prior to index were excluded. Patients were matched 1-to-1 on demographic and pre-initiation clinical characteristics using propensity scores from a random forest model. The primary efficacy outcome was COPD exacerbation rate, and secondary efficacy outcomes included exacerbation rates by event type and healthcare resource utilization. Pneumonia objectives included rates of any diagnosis of pneumonia and pneumonia-related healthcare resource utilization.
Matching of the identified 3,788 BFC and 6,439 FSC patients resulted in 3,697 patients in each group. Matched patients were well balanced on age (mean = 64 years), gender (BFC: 52% female; FSC: 54%), prior COPD-related medication use, healthcare utilization, and comorbid conditions. During follow-up, no significant difference was seen between BFC and FSC patients for number of COPD-related exacerbations overall (rate ratio [RR] = 1.02, 95% CI = [0.96,1.09], p = 0.56) or by event type: COPD-related hospitalizations (RR = 0.96), COPD-related ED visits (RR = 1.11), and COPD-related office/outpatient visits with OCS and/or antibiotic use (RR = 1.01). The proportion of patients diagnosed with pneumonia during the post-index period was similar for patients in each group (BFC = 17.3%, FSC = 19.0%, odds ratio = 0.92 [0.81,1.04], p = 0.19), and no difference was detected for pneumonia-related healthcare utilization by place of service.
This study demonstrated no difference in COPD-related exacerbations or pneumonia events between BFC and FSC treatment groups for patients new to ICS/LABA treatment in a real-world setting.
Trial registration identifier NCT01921127.
PMCID: PMC4409772  PMID: 25899176
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); Inhaled corticosteroid/long-acting β2-agonist combinations (ICS/LABA); Comparative effectiveness; Controller treatments; Administrative claims
12.  Prospective Impact of Illness Uncertainty on Outcomes in Chronic Lung Disease 
To determine which aspect of illness uncertainty (i.e., ambiguity or complexity) has a stronger association with psychological and clinical outcomes over a two year period among individuals with a genetic subtype of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Ambiguity reflects uncertainty about physical cues and symptoms, and complexity reflects uncertainty about treatment and the medical system.
407 individuals with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency-associated COPD completed questionnaires at baseline, 1- and 2-year follow-up. Uncertainty was measured using the Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale. Outcomes were measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire, and MMRC Dyspnea Scale. Ambiguity and complexity were examined as predictors of depressive symptoms, anxiety, quality of life, and breathlessness using linear mixed models adjusting for demographic and health characteristics.
Ambiguity was associated with more depressive symptoms (b = 0.09, SE = 0.02, p < 0.001) and anxiety (b = 0.13, SE = 0.02, p < 0.001), worse quality of life (b = 0.57, SE = 0.10, p < 0.001), and more breathlessness (b = 0.02, SE = 0.006, p < 0.001). Complexity did not have an independent effect on any outcome. Interactions between ambiguity and time since diagnosis were not statistically significant.
Ambiguity was prospectively associated with worse mood, quality of life, and breathlessness. Thus, ambiguity should be targeted in psychosocial interventions. Time since diagnosis did not affect the association between ambiguity and outcomes, suggesting that the impact of ambiguity is equally strong throughout the course of COPD.
PMCID: PMC3966193  PMID: 23772888
Uncertainty; Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale (MUIS); Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); Alpha One Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD)
13.  Serum VEGF-D concentration as a biomarker of lymphangioleiomyomatosis severity and treatment response: a prospective analysis of the Multicenter International Lymphangioleiomyomatosis Efficacy of Sirolimus (MILES) trial 
The lancet. Respiratory medicine  2013;1(6):445-452.
VEGF-D is a lymphangiogenic growth factor that has a key role in tumour metastasis. Serum VEGF-D concentrations are increased in most patients with lymphangioleiomyomatosis, a rare neoplasm associated with mTOR-activating tuberous sclerosis gene mutations, lymphadenopathy, metastatic spread, and pulmonary cyst formation. We used data from the Multicenter International Lymphangioleiomyomatosis Efficacy of Sirolimus (MILES) trial to assess the usefulness of serum VEGF-D concentration as a marker of severity and therapeutic response to sirolimus in patients with lymphangioleiomyomatosis.
In the MILES trial, patients with lymphangioleiomyomatosis who had forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) of 70% or less of predicted were randomly assigned (1:1) to 12 months masked treatment with sirolimus or placebo. Serum VEGF-D concentrations were measured at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months. We used a linear regression model to assess associations of baseline VEGF-D concentrations with markers of disease severity, and a linear mixed effects model to assess the associations of VEGF-D concentrations with between-group differences in clinical, physiological, and patient-reported outcomes.
We included 42 patients from the placebo group and 45 from the sirolimus group in our analysis. Baseline VEGF-D concentrations in individual patients varied from 0·34 ng/mL to 16·7 ng/mL. Baseline VEGF-D concentrations were higher in patients who needed supplemental oxygen than in those who did not need supplemental oxygen (1·7 ng/mL [IQR 0·99–3·36] vs 0·84 ng/mL [0·52–1·39]; p<0·0001) and in those who had a bronchodilator response than in those who did not (2·01 ng/mL [0·99–2·86] vs 1·00 ng/mL [0·61–2·15]; 0·0273). Median serum VEGF-D concentrations were similar at baseline in the sirolimus and placebo groups, and fell from baseline at 6 and 12 months in the sirolimus group but remained roughly stable in the placebo group. Each one-unit increase in baseline log(VEGF-D) was associated with a between-group difference in baseline-to-12-month FEV1 change of 134 mL (p=0·0007). In the sirolimus group, improvement in baseline-to-12-month FEV1 occurred in 15 of 23 (65%) VEGF-D responders (ie, those in whom baseline-to-12-month VEGF-D concentrations decreased by more than they did in any patients in the placebo group) and four of 15 (27%) VEGF-D non-responders (p=0·0448).
Serum VEGF-D is a biologically plausible and useful biomarker in lymphangioleiomyomatosis that correlates with disease severity and treatment response. Measurement of serum VEGF-D concentrations could inform the risk–benefit analysis of sirolimus therapy in patients with lymphangioleiomyomatosis and reduce the numbers of patients needed for clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3804556  PMID: 24159565
14.  The Prospective Association of Perceived Criticism with Dyspnea in Chronic Lung Disease 
Journal of psychosomatic research  2013;74(5):450-453.
Perceived criticism from family members influences mental health. The link between perceived criticism and physical health has not been thoroughly investigated. The objective of this study was to examine the association of perceived criticism with dyspnea in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
401 individuals with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency-associated COPD completed questionnaires at baseline, 1- and 2-year follow-up. Perceived criticism at baseline was examined as a predictor of dyspnea at all three time points using a linear mixed model that adjusted for demographic and health characteristics.
There was an interaction between perceived criticism and psychological distress (p = 0.038). Perceived criticism was associated with dyspnea only among individuals with elevated psychological distress (b = 0.32, SE = 0.13, p = 0.018).
Further research is needed to replicate these findings and determine the extent to which they apply to other common subjective physical symptoms such as pain.
PMCID: PMC3631318  PMID: 23597335
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD); Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); Dyspnea; Perceived criticism; Psychological distress
15.  Differences in Adjustment between Individuals with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD) Associated COPD and Non-AATD COPD 
COPD  2013;10(2):226-234.
Smokers who have severe alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) are at risk for developing COPD earlier in life than smokers without AATD, and are likely to experience challenges adjusting to their illness because they are in a highly productive life stage when they are diagnosed with COPD. This study examined whether individuals with AATD-associated COPD differ from individuals with non-AATD COPD with regard to depression, anxiety, dyspnea, and health-related quality of life (HRQL). Cross-sectional data were collected via self-report questionnaires completed by 480 individuals with non-AATD COPD and 578 individuals with AATD-associated COPD under protocols with IRB approval. Multiple linear regression models were used to test whether individuals with non-AATD COPD differed from individuals with AATD-associated COPD with regard to depression, anxiety, dyspnea, and HRQL. All models adjusted for demographic and health characteristics. Individuals with AATD-associated COPD did not report more symptoms of depression or anxiety; however, they did report more dyspnea (B = 0.31, 95% CI = 0.16 to 0.47, p < 0.001) and impairment in HRQL (B = 4.75, 95% CI = 2.10 to 7.41, p < 0.001) than other individuals with COPD. Individuals with AATD-associated COPD were more likely to be a member of a couple (rather than single) and had a higher level of education when compared to individuals with non-AATD COPD. Resources available to persons with AATD-associated COPD, such as being in a serious relationship and having higher education, may offset the effect of age when considering symptoms of depression and anxiety in patients with COPD.
PMCID: PMC3616400  PMID: 23547634
Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency; Anxiety; Depression; Dyspnea; Health Status; Psychological Adjustment
16.  Expanded carrier screening panels—does bigger mean better? 
Journal of Community Genetics  2013;5(2):191-198.
PMCID: PMC3955460  PMID: 24062228
17.  Alcohol Use Predicts ER Visits in Individuals with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD) Associated COPD 
COPD  2012;9(4):417-425.
Excessive alcohol use in COPD has been associated with increased mortality; however, little is known about alcohol use in AATD-associated COPD. 538 individuals with AATD-associated COPD completed questionnaires at baseline and 330 also completed 2 years of follow-up questionnaires. Demographic and health information was collected, including information about alcohol use, ER visits for COPD, and hospitalizations for COPD. Problem alcohol use was characterized using the CAGE screening questionnaire and recent alcohol consumption. Demographic and clinical characteristics associated with problem drinking were identified using logistic regression. Problem drinking at baseline was examined as a predictor of ER visits and hospital admissions for COPD in the subsequent two years using logistic regression adjusting for demographic variables and baseline health status. 14% of the sample reported a history of problem drinking per the CAGE and 8% reported problem drinking in the past week. Problem drinking was associated with higher education and greater lifetime tobacco exposure. Recent alcohol consumption was a significant predictor of having an ER visit for COPD in the subsequent two years. Compared to individuals who reported problem drinking in the past week, individuals with no consumption (OR= 0.32, 95% CI= 0.10 to 0.97, p= .043) and individuals with low to moderate consumption (OR= 0.25, 95% CI= 0.08 to 0.77, p= .016) had significantly lower odds of an ER visit. Neither measure of problem drinking predicted hospital admission. Screening for recent excessive alcohol use in this population may identify individuals at risk for use of costly emergency health services.
PMCID: PMC3603142  PMID: 22651849
Alpha One Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD); Alcohol Use; Emergency Room Use; Emergency Room Visits
18.  Association of cigarette smoking and CRP levels with DNA methylation in α-1 antitrypsin deficiency 
Epigenetics  2012;7(7):720-728.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency and tobacco smoking are confirmed risk factors for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. We hypothesized that variable DNA methylation would be associated with smoking and inflammation, as reflected by the level of C-Reactive Protein (CRP) in AAT-deficient subjects. Methylation levels of 1,411 autosomal CpG sites from the Illumina GoldenGate Methylation Cancer Panel I were analyzed in 316 subjects. Associations of five smoking behaviors and CRP levels with individual CpG sites and average methylation levels were assessed using non-parametric testing, linear regression and linear mixed effect models, with and without adjustment for age and gender. Univariate linear regression analysis revealed that methylation levels of 16 CpG sites significantly associated with ever-smoking status. A CpG site in the TGFBI gene was the only site associated with ever-smoking after adjustment for age and gender. No highly significant associations existed between age at smoking initiation, pack-years smoked, duration of smoking, and time since quitting smoking as predictors of individual CpG site methylation levels. However, ever-smoking and younger age at smoking initiation associated with lower methylation level averaged across all sites. DNA methylation at CpG sites in the RUNX3, JAK3 and KRT1 genes associated with CRP levels. The most significantly associated CpG sites with gender and age mapped to the CASP6 and FZD9 genes, respectively. In summary, this study identified multiple potential candidate CpG sites associated with ever-smoking and CRP level in AAT-deficient subjects. Phenotypic variability in Mendelian diseases may be due to epigenetic factors.
PMCID: PMC3414392  PMID: 22617718
68kDa (TGFBI); C-Reactive Protein (CRP); Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); Illumina GoldenGate Methylation Cancer Panel I; alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency; beta-induced; methylation; smoking behaviors; transforming growth factor
19.  Association of IREB2 and CHRNA3 polymorphisms with airflow obstruction in severe alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency 
Respiratory Research  2012;13(1):16.
The development of COPD in subjects with alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is likely to be influenced by modifier genes. Genome-wide association studies and integrative genomics approaches in COPD have demonstrated significant associations with SNPs in the chromosome 15q region that includes CHRNA3 (cholinergic nicotine receptor alpha3) and IREB2 (iron regulatory binding protein 2).
We investigated whether SNPs in the chromosome 15q region would be modifiers for lung function and COPD in AAT deficiency.
The current analysis included 378 PIZZ subjects in the AAT Genetic Modifiers Study and a replication cohort of 458 subjects from the UK AAT Deficiency National Registry. Nine SNPs in LOC123688, CHRNA3 and IREB2 were selected for genotyping. FEV1 percent of predicted and FEV1/FVC ratio were analyzed as quantitative phenotypes. Family-based association analysis was performed in the AAT Genetic Modifiers Study. In the replication set, general linear models were used for quantitative phenotypes and logistic regression models were used for the presence/absence of emphysema or COPD.
Three SNPs (rs2568494 in IREB2, rs8034191 in LOC123688, and rs1051730 in CHRNA3) were associated with pre-bronchodilator FEV1 percent of predicted in the AAT Genetic Modifiers Study. Two SNPs (rs2568494 and rs1051730) were associated with the post-bronchodilator FEV1 percent of predicted and pre-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC ratio; SNP-by-gender interactions were observed. In the UK National Registry dataset, rs2568494 was significantly associated with emphysema in the male subgroup; significant SNP-by-smoking interactions were observed.
IREB2 and CHRNA3 are potential genetic modifiers of COPD phenotypes in individuals with severe AAT deficiency and may be sex-specific in their impact.
PMCID: PMC3306733  PMID: 22356581
CHRNA3; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Genetic association analysis; Genetic modifiers; IREB2
20.  Efficacy and Safety of Sirolimus in Lymphangioleiomyomatosis 
The New England journal of medicine  2011;364(17):1595-1606.
Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) is a progressive, cystic lung disease in women; it is associated with inappropriate activation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling, which regulates cellular growth and lymphangiogenesis. Sirolimus (also called rapamycin) inhibits mTOR and has shown promise in phase 1–2 trials involving patients with LAM.
We conducted a two-stage trial of sirolimus involving 89 patients with LAM who had moderate lung impairment — a 12-month randomized, double-blind comparison of sirolimus with placebo, followed by a 12-month observation period. The primary end point was the difference between the groups in the rate of change (slope) in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1).
During the treatment period, the FEV1 slope was −12±2 ml per month in the placebo group (43 patients) and 1±2 ml per month in the sirolimus group (46 patients) (P<0.001). The absolute between-group difference in the mean change in FEV1 during the treatment period was 153 ml, or approximately 11% of the mean FEV1 at enrollment. As compared with the placebo group, the sirolimus group had improvement from baseline to 12 months in measures of forced vital capacity, functional residual capacity, serum vascular endothelial growth factor D (VEGF-D), and quality of life and functional performance. There was no significant between-group difference in this interval in the change in 6-minute walk distance or diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide. After discontinuation of sirolimus, the decline in lung function resumed in the sirolimus group and paralleled that in the placebo group. Adverse events were more common with sirolimus, but the frequency of serious adverse events did not differ significantly between the groups.
In patients with LAM, sirolimus stabilized lung function, reduced serum VEGF-D levels, and was associated with a reduction in symptoms and improvement in quality of life. Therapy with sirolimus may be useful in selected patients with LAM. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others; MILES number, NCT00414648.)
PMCID: PMC3118601  PMID: 21410393
21.  Unilateral Pulmonary Artery Aplasia in a Pregnant Patient 
Case Reports in Medicine  2011;2011:806723.
Unilateral pulmonary artery aplasia is a rare anomaly. Case reports of this condition in pregnant patients are even more uncommon and the best approach to management of such patients is still unclear. We report a patient who presented with a history of dyspnea, chest pain, and hemoptysis. Imaging established the diagnosis in a newly pregnant female. Management of the pulmonary artery aplasia patient in pregnancy requires prospective evaluation of pulmonary hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3087430  PMID: 21547212
22.  Pharmacokinetic comparability of Prolastin®-C to Prolastin® in alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency: a randomized study 
Alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is characterized by low blood levels of alpha1-proteinase inhibitor (alpha1-PI) and may lead to emphysema. Alpha1-PI protects pulmonary tissue from damage caused by the action of proteolytic enzymes. Augmentation therapy with Prolastin® (Alpha1-Proteinase Inhibitor [Human]) to increase the levels of alpha1-PI has been used to treat individuals with AAT deficiency for over 20 years. Modifications to the Prolastin manufacturing process, incorporating additional purification and pathogen-reduction steps, have led to the development of an alpha1-PI product, designated Prolastin®-C (Alpha1-Proteinase inhibitor [Human]). The pharmacokinetic comparability of Prolastin-C to Prolastin was assessed in subjects with AAT deficiency.
In total, 24 subjects were randomized to receive 60 mg/kg of functionally active Prolastin-C or Prolastin by weekly intravenous infusion for 8 weeks before crossover to the alternate treatment for another 8 weeks. Pharmacokinetic plasma samples were drawn over 7 days following last dose in the first treatment period and over 10 days following the last dose in the second period. The primary end point for pharmacokinetic comparability was area under the plasma concentration versus time curve over 7 days post dose (AUC0-7 days) of alpha1-PI determined by potency (functional activity) assay. The crossover phase was followed by an 8-week open-label treatment phase with Prolastin-C only.
Mean AUC0-7 days was 155.9 versus 152.4 mg*h/mL for Prolastin-C and Prolastin, respectively. The geometric least squares mean ratio of AUC0-7 days for Prolastin-C versus Prolastin had a point estimate of 1.03 and a 90% confidence interval of 0.97-1.09, demonstrating pharmacokinetic equivalence between the 2 products. Adverse events were similar for both treatments and occurred at a rate of 0.117 and 0.078 per infusion for Prolastin-C (double-blind treatment phase only) and Prolastin, respectively (p = 0.744). There were no treatment-emergent viral infections in any subject for human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis B or C, or parvovirus B19 during the course of the study.
Prolastin-C demonstrated pharmacokinetic equivalence and a comparable safety profile to Prolastin.
Trial Registration Identifier: NCT00295061
PMCID: PMC2958874  PMID: 20920295
23.  Determinants of airflow obstruction in severe alpha‐1‐antitrypsin deficiency 
Thorax  2007;62(9):806-813.
Severe α1‐antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is an autosomal recessive genetic condition associated with an increased but variable risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A study was undertaken to assess the impact of chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and sex on the development of COPD in individuals with severe AAT deficiency.
The AAT Genetic Modifier Study is a multicentre family‐based cohort study designed to study the genetic and epidemiological determinants of COPD in AAT deficiency. 378 individuals (age range 33–80 years), confirmed to be homozygous for the SERPINA1 Z mutation, were included in the analyses. The primary outcomes of interest were a quantitative outcome, forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) percentage predicted, and a qualitative outcome, severe airflow obstruction (FEV1 <50% predicted).
In multivariate analysis of the overall cohort, cigarette smoking, sex, asthma, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia were risk factors for reduced FEV1 percentage predicted and severe airflow obstruction (p<0.01). Index cases had lower FEV1 values, higher smoking histories and more reports of adult asthma, pneumonia and asthma before age 16 than non‐index cases (p<0.01). Men had lower pre‐ and post‐bronchodilator FEV1 percentage predicted than women (p<0.0001); the lowest FEV1 values were observed in men reporting a history of childhood asthma (26.9%). This trend for more severe obstruction in men remained when index and non‐index groups were examined separately, with men representing the majority of non‐index individuals with airflow obstruction (71%). Chronic bronchitis (OR 3.8, CI 1.8 to 12.0) and a physician's report of asthma (OR 4.2, CI 1.4 to 13.1) were predictors of severe airflow obstruction in multivariate analysis of non‐index men but not women.
In individuals with severe AAT deficiency, sex, asthma, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia are risk factors for severe COPD, in addition to cigarette smoking. These results suggest that, in subjects severely deficient in AAT, men, individuals with symptoms of chronic bronchitis and/or a past diagnosis of asthma or pneumonia may benefit from closer monitoring and potentially earlier treatment.
PMCID: PMC2117297  PMID: 17389752
24.  Is PiSS Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency Associated with Disease? 
Pulmonary Medicine  2010;2010:570679.
Background. Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AAT) is an inherited condition that predisposes to lung and/or liver disease. Objective. The current study examined the clinical features of the PiSS genotype. Methods. Nineteen study participants (PiSS) and 29 matched control participants (PiMM) were telephone interviewed using a standardized questionnaire. Demographic features, cigarette smoking, vocation, medication history, and clinical diagnoses were compared. Statistical analysis was performed. Finally, a comprehensive literature review was performed by two investigators. Results. 12/19 (63.2%) study participants reported the presence of lung and/or liver disease compared to 12/29 (41.4%) control participants. There trended toward having a higher frequency of medication allergies in the study population (42.11% versus 20.69%). Conclusions. The PiSS genotype was associated with a similar incidence of obstructive lung disease to controls. Selective bias intrinsic in testing for AAT deficiency and the rarity of the PiSS genotype will make future study of this association dependent on population-based tests.
PMCID: PMC3099463  PMID: 21687342
25.  How should we treat vascular and fibrotic lung disease in scleroderma? 
Recent randomized trials suggest that evidence-based algorithms for systemic sclerosis can be developed to identify patients at risk for lung disease, follow lung disease progression, and modify disease with therapies of proven benefit. Recognition of disease subsets allows physicians to integrate physiology, overlapping disease manifestations, and predictable drug effects into a comprehensive disease management program.
PMCID: PMC2948303  PMID: 20948723

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