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1.  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.
doi:10.4161/epi.20319
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
2.  Determinants of airflow obstruction in severe alpha‐1‐antitrypsin deficiency 
Thorax  2007;62(9):806-813.
Background
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.
Methods
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).
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1136/thx.2006.075846
PMCID: PMC2117297  PMID: 17389752
3.  Comorbidities, Patient Knowledge, and Disease Management in a National Sample of Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
The American journal of medicine  2009;122(4):348-355.
Purpose
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States but is often under-treated. COPD often overlaps with other conditions such as hypertension and osteoporosis, which are less morbid but which may be treated more aggressively. We evaluated the prevalence of these comorbid conditions and compared testing, patient knowledge, and management in a national sample of patients with COPD.
Methods and Methods
A survey was administered by telephone in 2006 to 1,003 COPD patients to evaluate the prevalence of comorbid conditions, diagnostic testing, knowledge, and management using standardized instruments. The completion rate was 87%.
Results
Among 1,003 patients with COPD, 61% reported moderate or severe dyspnea and 41% a prior hospitalization for COPD. The most prevalent comorbid diagnoses were hypertension (55%), hypercholesterolemia (52%), depression (37%), cataracts (31%) and osteoporosis (28%). Only 10% of respondents knew their FEV1 (95% CI: 8, 12%) compared to 79% who knew their blood pressure (95% CI: 76%, 83%). Seventy-two percent (95% CI: 69%, 75%) reported taking any medication for COPD – usually a short-acting bronchodilator – whereas 87% (95% CI: 84%, 90%) of patients with COPD and hypertension were taking an antihypertensive medication and 72% (95% CI: 68%, 75%) of patients with COPD and hypercholesterolemia were taking a statin.
Conclusion
Although most of these COPD patients in this national sample were symptomatic and many had been hospitalized for COPD, COPD self-knowledge was low and COPD was undertreated compared to generally asymptomatic, less morbid conditions such as hypertension.
doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2008.09.042
PMCID: PMC2692705  PMID: 19332230
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema; chronic bronchitis; asthma; comorbidities
4.  The effect of tiotropium therapy on markers of elastin degradation in COPD 
Respiratory Research  2009;10(1):12.
Background
Desmosine and Isodesmosine (D/I) are cross-linking amino acids which are present only in mature elastin. Changes in their concentration in body fluids indicate changes in elastin degradation and can be a reflection of tissue elastase activity. This study was undertaken to determine whether continuous therapy with the long-acting bronchodilator Tiotropium bromide (TTP) could result in reductions in D/I as measured by mass spectrometry in plasma, urine and sputum.
Methods
Twelve not currently smoking patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), never on TTP, were selected for study. Levels of D/I, along with measurements of FVC, FEV1 and FEV1/FVC. were determined before starting TTP daily, and then one and two months after.
Results
D/I decreased in plasma (10 of 12 patients), in sputum all (12 of 12), and in the percentage of free D/I in urine (10 of 12). Most patients showed slight increases in FVC and FEV1 percent predicted over two months.
Conclusion
The results are consistent with an effect of prolonged bronchodilitation by anti-cholinergic blockade to also result in reduced lung elastin degradation.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-10-12
PMCID: PMC2682791  PMID: 19243601
7.  Therapeutic Effects of Hyaluronan on Smoke-induced Elastic Fiber Injury: Does Delayed Treatment Affect Efficacy? 
Lung  2010;189(1):51-56.
Aerosolized hyaluronan (HA) has been previously shown to prevent cigarette smoke-induced airspace enlargement and elastic fiber injury in mice when given concurrently with smoke. In the present study, a more stringent test of the therapeutic potential of HA was performed by delaying treatment with this agent for 1 month. After treatment with cigarette smoke for 3 h per day for 5 days per week for 1 month, mice (DBA/2J) began receiving aerosolized HA (0.1%) for 1 h prior to smoke exposure (controls were given aerosolized water). The results indicate that much of the damage to the lung elastic fibers occurred within the first several months of smoke exposure, as measured by levels of desmosine and isodesmosine (DID) in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). In contrast to previously published studies, where concurrent administration of aerosolized HA significantly reduced BALF DID levels within 3 months of smoke exposure, the same effect was not seen until 6 months when HA treatment was delayed. However, despite the prolonged breakdown of elastic fibers in the current study, a significant reduction in airspace enlargement was observed after only 2 months of HA treatment. These findings provide further support for testing this agent in patients with preexisting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
doi:10.1007/s00408-010-9271-2
PMCID: PMC3050539  PMID: 21153833
Hyaluronan; Lung; Desmosine; Cigarette Smoke; COPD

Results 1-7 (7)