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1.  Therapy with Plasma Purified Alpha1-Antitrypsin (Prolastin®) Induces Time-Dependent Changes in Plasma Levels of MMP-9 and MPO 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(1):e0117497.
The common Z mutation (Glu342Lys) of α1-antitrypsin (A1AT) results in the polymerization and intracellular retention of A1AT protein. The concomitant deficiency of functional A1AT predisposes PiZZ subjects to early onset emphysema. Clinical studies have implied that, among the biomarkers associated with emphysema, matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) is of particular importance. Increased plasma MMP-9 levels are proposed to predict the decline of lung function as well as greater COPD exacerbations in A1AT deficiency-associated emphysema. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of A1AT therapy (Prolastin) on plasma MMP-9 and myeloperoxidase (MPO) levels. In total 34 PiZZ emphysema patients were recruited: 12 patients without and 22 with weekly intravenous (60 mg/kg body weight) A1AT therapy. The quantitative analysis of A1AT, MMP-9 and MPO was performed in serum and in supernatants of blood neutrophils isolated from patients before and after therapy. Patients with Prolastin therapy showed significantly lower serum MMP-9 and MPO levels than those without therapy. However, parallel analysis revealed that a rapid infusion of Prolastin is accompanied by a transient elevation of plasma MMP-9 and MPO levels. Experiments with freshly isolated blood neutrophils confirmed that therapy with Prolastin causes transient MMP-9 and MPO release. Prolastin induced the rapid release of MMP-9 and MPO when added directly to neutrophil cultures and this reaction was associated with the presence of IgA in A1AT preparation. Our data support the conclusion that changes in plasma levels of MMP-9 and MPO mirror the effect of Prolastin on blood neutrophils.
PMCID: PMC4311911  PMID: 25635861
2.  Gardening can induce pulmonary failure: Aspergillus ARDS in an immunocompetent patient, a case report 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14(1):600.
Acute Aspergillus fumigatus infection in immunocompetent patients is rare. This is the first known case of a patient who survived Aspergillus sepsis after being treated early with veno-venous extracorporeal membrane (ECMO) and antifungal therapy.
Case presentation
An immunocompetent 54-year-old woman was exposed to plant mulch during gardening and subsequently developed pulmonary failure that progressed to sepsis with multiorgan failure. Owing to her severe clinical condition, she was treated for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) with veno-venous ECMO. Empiric antifungal therapy comprising voriconazole was also initiated owing to her history and a previous case report of aspergillosis after plant mulch exposure, though there was no microbiological proof at the time. A. fumigatus was later cultured and detected on antibody testing. The patient recovered, and ECMO was discontinued 1 week later. After 7 days of antifungal treatment, Aspergillus antibodies were undetectable.
In cases of sepsis that occur after gardening, clinicians should consider Aspergillus inhalation as an aetiology, and early antimycotic therapy is recommended.
PMCID: PMC4253624  PMID: 25425351
Aspergillus fumigatus; Sepsis; ECMO; Immunocompetent patient; Treatment
3.  Indacaterol improves lung hyperinflation and physical activity in patients with moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - a randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled study 
BMC Pulmonary Medicine  2014;14(1):158.
Indacaterol is a long-acting beta-2 agonist for once-daily treatment of COPD. We evaluated the effects of indacaterol 150 μg on lung hyperinflation compared with placebo and open-label tiotropium 18 μg. We measured physical activity during treatment with indacaterol 150 μg and matched placebo.
We performed a randomized, three-period, cross-over study (21 days of treatment separated by two wash-out periods of 13 days) with indacaterol 150 μg or matching placebo and tiotropium 18 μg. Lung function was assessed by body plethysmography and spirometry. Physical activity was measured for one week by a multisensory armband at the end of both treatment periods with indacaterol/matched placebo. The primary endpoint was peak inspiratory capacity at the end of each treatment period.
129 patients (mean age, 61 years; mean post-bronchodilator FEV1, 64%), were randomized and 110 patients completed the study. Peak inspiratory capacity was 0.22 L greater with Indacaterol at day 21 compared to placebo (p < 0.001). Similar results were observed for tiotropium. Both bronchodilators also significantly improved other parameters of lung hyperinflation compared with placebo. All parameters of physical activity were significantly increased during treatment with indacaterol versus placebo.
Indacaterol 150 μg improved lung hyperinflation in patients with moderate COPD, which was associated with an increase of physical activity.
Trial registration registration number: NCT01012765.
PMCID: PMC4197315  PMID: 25280934
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Lung hyperinflation; Bronchodilator treatment; Physical activity
4.  Benefits of whole body vibration training in patients hospitalised for COPD exacerbations - a randomized clinical trial 
Patients with stable COPD show improvements in exercise capacity and muscular function after the application of whole body vibration. We aimed to evaluate whether this modality added to conventional physiotherapy in exacerbated hospitalised COPD patients would be safe and would improve exercise capacity and quality of life.
49 hospitalised exacerbated COPD patients were randomized (1:1) to undergo physiotherapy alone or physiotherapy with the addition of whole body vibration. The primary endpoint was the between-group difference of the 6-minute walking test (day of discharge – day of admission). Secondary assessments included chair rising test, quality of life, and serum marker analysis.
Whole body vibration did not cause procedure-related adverse events. Compared to physiotherapy alone, it led to significantly stronger improvements in 6-minute walking test (95.55 ± 76.29 m vs. 6.13 ± 81.65 m; p = 0.007) and St. Georges Respiratory Questionnaire (-6.43 ± 14.25 vs. 5.59 ± 19.15, p = 0.049). Whole body vibration increased the expression of the transcription factor peroxisome proliferator receptor gamma coactivator-1-α and serum levels of irisin, while it decreased serum interleukin-8.
Whole body vibration during hospitalised exacerbations did not cause procedure-related adverse events and induced clinically significant benefits regarding exercise capacity and health-related quality of life that were associated with increased serum levels of irisin, a marker of muscle activity.
Trial registration
German Clinical Trials Register DRKS00005979. Registered 17 March 2014.
PMCID: PMC4021435  PMID: 24725369
Exercise; COPD exacerbation; Cytokine biology; Pulmonary rehabilitation
5.  Systemic steroids in COPD-the beauty and the beast 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):38.
PMCID: PMC4234428  PMID: 24708470
6.  A randomized clinical trial to assess the influence of a three months training program (Gym-based individualized vs. Calisthenics-based non-invidualized) in COPD-patients 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):36.
Pulmonary rehabilitation has been demonstrated to improve exercise capacity, dyspnoea, quality of life and to reduce the adverse effects of acute exacerbations. Current guidelines recommend exercise training in patients with mild to very severe disease. However, there is insufficient data comparing the efficacy of different training approaches and intensities.
Between January 2009 and December 2012, 105 COPD patients were screened to participate in the study. 61 patients were randomly assigned into an individualized training group or into a non-individualized training group. Both groups exercised once a week for 60 minutes over a time period of three months. At the beginning and after three months, the following measurements were performed: 6-minute walking test (6-MWT), health-related quality of life (St. Georges Respiratory Questionnaire; SGRQ and COPD-Assessment-Test; CAT), M. rectus femoris cross-sectional area, and inflammatory markers in peripheral blood.
Only in the individualized training group we observed a significant change of the 6-MWT (increase of 32.47 m; p = 0.012) and the cross-sectional area of the M. rectus fermoris (increase of 0.57 cm2; p = 0.049), while no significant changes occurred in the non-individualized training group. Peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator 1α increased in the individualized training only after the three months training period (increase of 0.43 relative copies; p = 0.017), all other myokines and inflammatory markers were not influenced by either of the programs. The total drop-out-rate was 44.3%.
A low frequency outpatient training program may induce modest improvements in exercise capacity and muscle mass only if it is performed on an individualized basis.
PMCID: PMC4021228  PMID: 24666558
7.  Characterisation of exacerbation risk and exacerbator phenotypes in the POET-COPD trial 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):116.
Data examining the characteristics of patients with frequent exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and associated hospitalisations and mortality are scarce.
Post-hoc analysis of the Prevention Of Exacerbations with Tiotropium in COPD (POET-COPD) trial, targeting exacerbations as the primary endpoint. Patients were classified as non-, infrequent, and frequent exacerbators (0, 1, or ≥ 2 exacerbations during study treatment), irrespective of study treatment. A multivariate Cox regression model assessed the effect of covariates on time to first exacerbation.
In total, 7376 patients were included in the analysis: 63.5% non-exacerbators, 22.9% infrequent, 13.6% frequent exacerbators. Factors significantly associated with exacerbation risk were age, sex, body mass index, COPD duration and severity, smoking history, baseline inhaled corticosteroid use, and preceding antibiotic or systemic corticosteroid courses. Frequent exacerbators had greater severity and duration of COPD, received more pulmonary medication, and ≥ 2 systemic corticosteroid or antibiotic courses in the preceding year, and were more likely to be female and ex-smokers. The small proportion of frequent exacerbators (13.6%) accounted for 56.6% of exacerbation-related hospitalisations, which, overall, were associated with a three-fold increase in mortality.
The frequent exacerbator phenotype was closely associated with exacerbation-related hospitalisations, and exacerbation-related hospitalisations were associated with poorer survival.
Trial registration
NCT00563381; Study identifier: BI 205.389.
PMCID: PMC3833311  PMID: 24168767
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Exacerbations; Mortality; Hospitalisation; Tiotropium; Salmeterol; GOLD
8.  Augmentation therapy for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency: towards a personalised approach 
Intravenous augmentation therapy is the only specific treatment available for emphysema associated with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Despite large observational studies and limited interventional studies there remains controversy about the efficacy of this treatment due to the impracticality of conducting adequately powered studies to evaluate the rate of decline in lung function, due to the low prevalence and the slow progression of the disease. However, measurement of lung density by computed tomography is a more specific and sensitive marker of the evolution of emphysema and two small placebo-controlled clinical trials have provided evidence supporting a reduction in the rate of decline in lung density with augmentation therapy.
The problem
Where augmentation therapy has become available there has been little consideration of a structured approach to therapy which is often introduced on the basis of functional impairment at diagnosis. Data from registries have shown a great variability in the evolution of lung disease according to patient acquisition and the presence of recognised risk factors. Avoidance of risk factors may, in many cases, stabilise the disease. Since augmentation therapy itself will at best preserve the presenting level of lung damage yet require intravenous administration for life with associated costs, identification of patients at risk of continued rapid or long term progression is essential to select those for whom this treatment can be most appropriate and hence generally more cost-effective. This represents a major reconsideration of the current practice in order to develop a consistent approach to management world wide.
Purpose of this review
The current review assesses the evidence for efficacy of augmentation therapy and considers how the combination of age, physiological impairment, exacerbation history and rate of decline in spirometry and other measures of emphysema may be used to improve therapeutic decision making, until a reliable predictive biomarker of the evolution of lung impairment can be identified. In addition, individual pharmacokinetic studies may permit the selection of the best regimen of administration for those who need it.
The rarity and variable characteristics of the disease imply the need for an individualised approach to therapy in specialised centres with sufficient experience to apply a systematic approach to monitoring and management.
PMCID: PMC3852071  PMID: 24063809
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency; COPD; Risk factors; Augmentation therapy
9.  Krüppel-like zinc finger proteins in end-stage COPD lungs with and without severe alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is influenced by environmental and genetic factors. An important fraction of COPD cases harbor a major genetic determinant, inherited ZZ (Glu342Lys) α1-antitrypsin deficiency (AATD). A study was undertaken to investigate gene expression patterns in end-stage COPD lungs from patients with and without AATD.
Explanted lungs of end-stage ZZ AATD-related (treated and non-treated with AAT augmentation therapy) and “normal” MM COPD, and liver biopsies from patients suffering from liver cirrhosis with and without ZZ AATD were used for gene expression analysis by Affymetrix microarrays or RT-PCR.
A total of 162 genes were found to be differentially expressed (p-value ≤ 0.05 and |FC| ≥ 2) between MM and ZZ COPD patients. Of those, 134 gene sets were up-regulated and 28 were down-regulated in ZZ relative to MM lung tissue. A subgroup of genes, zinc finger protein 165, snail homolog 1 (Drosophila) (SNAI1), and Krüppel-like transcription factors (KLFs) 4 (gut), 9 and 10, perfectly segregated ZZ and MM COPD patients. The higher expression of KLF 9 and KLF10 has been verified in the replication cohort with AATD-related end-stage lung emphysema and liver cirrhosis. Furthermore, higher expression of KLF9, SNAI1 and DEFA1 was found in ZZ COPD lungs without augmentation therapy relative to MM COPD or ZZ COPD with augmentation therapy.
These results reveal the involvement of transcriptional regulators of the zinc-finger family in COPD pathogenesis and provide deeper insight into the pathophysiological mechanisms of COPD with and without AATD.
PMCID: PMC3517304  PMID: 22621770
Alpha 1-antitrypsin; COPD; Gene expression, Krüppel-like zinc finger proteins, Affymetrix gene chips
10.  Guideline-based survey of outpatient COPD management by pulmonary specialists in Germany 
Little is known about the role of guidelines for the practical management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by office-based pulmonary specialists. The aim of this study was to assess their outpatient management in relation to current guideline recommendations for COPD.
A nationwide prospective cross-sectional COPD questionnaire survey in the form of a multiple-choice questionnaire was sent to 1000 office-based respiratory specialists in Germany. The product-neutral questions focused on routine COPD management and were based on current national and international COPD guideline recommendations being consistent in severity classification and treatment recommendations.
A total of 590 pulmonary specialists (59%) participated in the survey. Body plethysmography was considered the standard for diagnosis (65.9%), followed by spirometry (32%). Most respondents were able to cite the correct spirometric criteria for classifying moderate (87%) to very severe COPD (77%). A quarter of the respondents equated the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of chronic bronchitis with COPD. Notably, most participants preferred the updated national COPD guidelines (51.4%) to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) guidelines (40.2%). Improvement of functional exercise capacity and quality of life were considered the two most relevant treatment goals; whereas impact on mortality was secondary. Treatment of COPD largely complied with the guidelines. However, a significant percentage of the pulmonary specialists differed in their assessment of the benefits of various therapeutic measures from evidence-based results. Referral for pulmonary rehabilitation was uncommon, regardless of the severity of COPD.
The findings of this large national survey suggest that most pulmonary specialists adhere to the current COPD guideline recommendations in daily practice. However, physicians’ knowledge of guidelines is not sufficient as the sole benchmark when assessing their implementation in day-to-day practice. Necessary changes in the health care system must include more effective ways to transfer knowledge to clinical practice and to give access to interventions of proven clinical benefit.
PMCID: PMC3282602  PMID: 22371651
pulmonary rehabilitation; survey; GOLD; clinical outcomes; therapy; diagnosis
11.  Comparison of Two Devices and Two Breathing Patterns for Exhaled Breath Condensate Sampling 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27467.
Analysis of exhaled breath condensate (EBC) is a noninvasive method to access the epithelial lining fluid of the lungs. Due to standardization problems the method has not entered clinical practice. The aim of the study was to assess the comparability for two commercially available devices in healthy controls. In addition, we assessed different breathing patterns in healthy controls with protein markers to analyze the source of the EBC.
EBC was collected from ten subjects using the RTube and ECoScreen Turbo in a randomized crossover design, twice with every device - once in tidal breathing and once in hyperventilation. EBC conductivity, pH, surfactant protein A, Clara cell secretory protein and total protein were assessed. Bland-Altman plots were constructed to display the influence of different devices or breathing patterns and the intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) was calculated. The volatile organic compound profile was measured using the electronic nose Cyranose 320. For the analysis of these data, the linear discriminant analysis, the Mahalanobis distances and the cross-validation values (CVV) were calculated.
Neither the device nor the breathing pattern significantly altered EBC pH or conductivity. ICCs ranged from 0.61 to 0.92 demonstrating moderate to very good agreement. Protein measurements were greatly influenced by breathing pattern, the device used, and the way in which the results were reported. The electronic nose could distinguish between different breathing patterns and devices, resulting in Mahalanobis distances greater than 2 and CVVs ranging from 64% to 87%.
EBC pH and (to a lesser extent) EBC conductivity are stable parameters that are not influenced by either the device or the breathing patterns. Protein measurements remain uncertain due to problems of standardization. We conclude that the influence of the breathing maneuver translates into the necessity to keep the volume of ventilated air constant in further studies.
PMCID: PMC3210176  PMID: 22087323
13.  Indacaterol provides 24-hour bronchodilation in COPD: a placebo-controlled blinded comparison with tiotropium 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):135.
Indacaterol is a novel, inhaled, once-daily, ultra-long-acting β2-agonist for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This randomized, double-blind study compared the bronchodilator efficacy of indacaterol with that of placebo and tiotropium in patients with moderate-to-severe COPD.
In an incomplete-block, multi-dose, three-period, crossover design, patients received three of the following four treatments: indacaterol 150 μg, indacaterol 300 μg, tiotropium 18 μg and placebo, each once-daily for 14 days. Each treatment period was separated by a 14-day washout. Study drug was supplied daily by blinded, third party study personnel to maintain blinding of patients and investigators. The primary efficacy variable was trough forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) at 24 h post-dose after 14 days. The study was powered to demonstrate non-inferiority of indacaterol to tiotropium for this variable.
A total of 169 patients were randomized (mean age 65 years); 153 (90.5%) completed. Trough FEV1 after 14 days with indacaterol 150 μg and 300 μg was statistically and clinically superior to placebo, with differences (95% CI) of 170 (120-220) and 150 (100-200) mL respectively (both p < 0.001). For this endpoint, both doses of indacaterol not only met the criterion for non-inferiority compared with tiotropium, but also achieved numerically higher values, with differences versus tiotropium of 40 and 30 mL for indacaterol 150 and 300 μg, respectively. At 5 min post-dose on Day 1, the mean FEV1 for both indacaterol doses was significantly higher than placebo (by 120 and 130 mL for indacaterol 150 and 300 μg, respectively; p < 0.001) and tiotropium (by 80 mL for both doses; p < 0.001). Adverse events were reported by similar proportions of patients: 31.4%, 29.5%, 28.3% and 28.5% for indacaterol 150 μg and 300 μg, tiotropium and placebo treatments, respectively.
Once-daily indacaterol provided clinically and statistically significant 24-h bronchodilation. Indacaterol was at least as effective as tiotropium, with a faster onset of action (within 5 min) on the first day of dosing. Indacaterol should prove useful in patients with moderate-to-severe COPD, for whom treatment with one or more classes of long-acting bronchodilator is recommended.
Trial registration NCT00615459, EudraCT number: 2007-004071-19
PMCID: PMC2964613  PMID: 20920365
14.  The antimicrobial peptide LL-37 modulates the inflammatory and host defense response of human neutrophils 
European journal of immunology  2010;40(4):1118-1126.
The human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide acts as an effector molecule of the innate immune system with direct antimicrobial and immunomodulatory effects. The aim of this study was to test whether the cathelicidin LL-37 modulates the response of neutrophils to microbial stimulation. Human neutrophils were exposed to LPS, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa subsequent to incubation with LL-37 and cytokine release was measured by ELISA. The incubation with LL-37 significantly decreased the release of proinflammatory cytokines from stimulated human neutrophils. ROS production of neutrophils was determined by a luminometric and a flow cytometry method. The peptide induced the production of ROS and the engulfment of bacteria into neutrophils. Peritoneal mouse neutrophils isolated from CRAMP-deficient and WT animals were treated with LPS and TNF-α in the supernatant was measured by ELISA. Antimicrobial activity of neutrophils was detected by incubating neutrophils isolated from CRAMP-knockout and WT mice with bacteria. Neutrophils from CRAMP-deficient mice released significantly more TNF-α after bacterial stimulation and showed decreased antimicrobial activity as compared to cells from WT animals. In conclusion, LL-37 modulates the response of neutrophils to bacterial activation. Cathelicidin controls the release of inflammatory mediators while increasing antimicrobial activity of neutrophils.
PMCID: PMC2908514  PMID: 20140902
Antimicrobial peptide; Host defense; Innate immunity; Neutrophil
15.  Outcome measures in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): strengths and limitations 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):79.
Current methods for assessing clinical outcomes in COPD mainly rely on physiological tests combined with the use of questionnaires. The present review considers commonly used outcome measures such as lung function, health status, exercise capacity and physical activity, dyspnoea, exacerbations, the multi-dimensional BODE score, and mortality. Based on current published data, we provide a concise overview of the principles, strengths and weaknesses, and discuss open questions related to each methodology. Reviewed is the current set of markers for measuring clinically relevant outcomes with particular emphasis on their limitations and opportunities that should be recognized when assessing and interpreting their use in clinical trials of COPD.
PMCID: PMC2902430  PMID: 20565728
16.  Regional differences in prediction models of lung function in Germany 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):40.
Little is known about the influencing potential of specific characteristics on lung function in different populations. The aim of this analysis was to determine whether lung function determinants differ between subpopulations within Germany and whether prediction equations developed for one subpopulation are also adequate for another subpopulation.
Within three studies (KORA C, SHIP-I, ECRHS-I) in different areas of Germany 4059 adults performed lung function tests. The available data consisted of forced expiratory volume in one second, forced vital capacity and peak expiratory flow rate. For each study multivariate regression models were developed to predict lung function and Bland-Altman plots were established to evaluate the agreement between predicted and measured values.
The final regression equations for FEV1 and FVC showed adjusted r-square values between 0.65 and 0.75, and for PEF they were between 0.46 and 0.61. In all studies gender, age, height and pack-years were significant determinants, each with a similar effect size. Regarding other predictors there were some, although not statistically significant, differences between the studies. Bland-Altman plots indicated that the regression models for each individual study adequately predict medium (i.e. normal) but not extremely high or low lung function values in the whole study population.
Simple models with gender, age and height explain a substantial part of lung function variance whereas further determinants add less than 5% to the total explained r-squared, at least for FEV1 and FVC. Thus, for different adult subpopulations of Germany one simple model for each lung function measures is still sufficient.
PMCID: PMC2873930  PMID: 20412583
17.  Comparison of exhaled breath condensate pH using two commercially available devices in healthy controls, asthma and COPD patients 
Respiratory Research  2009;10(1):78.
Analysis of exhaled breath condensate (EBC) is a non-invasive method for studying the acidity (pH) of airway secretions in patients with inflammatory lung diseases.
To assess the reproducibility of EBC pH for two commercially available devices (portable RTube and non-portable ECoScreen) in healthy controls, patients with asthma or COPD, and subjects suffering from an acute cold with lower-airway symptoms. In addition, we assessed the repeatability in healthy controls.
EBC was collected from 40 subjects (n = 10 in each of the above groups) using RTube and ECoScreen. EBC was collected from controls on two separate occasions within 5 days. pH in EBC was assessed after degasification with argon for 20 min.
In controls, pH-measurements in EBC collected by RTube or ECoScreen showed no significant difference between devices (p = 0.754) or between days (repeatability coefficient RTube: 0.47; ECoScreen: 0.42) of collection. A comparison between EBC pH collected by the two devices in asthma, COPD and cold patients also showed good reproducibility. No differences in pH values were observed between controls (mean pH 8.27; RTube) and patients with COPD (pH 7.97) or asthma (pH 8.20), but lower values were found using both devices in patients with a cold (pH 7.56; RTube, p < 0.01; ECoScreen, p < 0.05).
We conclude that pH measurements in EBC collected by RTube and ECoScreen are repeatable and reproducible in healthy controls, and are reproducible and comparable in healthy controls, COPD and asthma patients, and subjects with a common cold.
PMCID: PMC2747836  PMID: 19703285
18.  Study design considerations in a large COPD trial comparing effects of tiotropium with salmeterol on exacerbations 
Currently available long-acting inhaled bronchodilators (tiotropium, salmeterol, formoterol) have demonstrated beneficial effects on exacerbations in placebo-controlled trials. However, there have been no direct comparisons of these drugs with exacerbations as the primary outcome and consequently COPD treatment guidelines do not indicate a preference for either bronchodilator. Therefore, an international, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, parallel-group clinical trial has been designed to investigate the comparative efficacy of 2 long-acting bronchodilators tiotropium 18 μg daily and salmeterol 50 μg bid on exacerbations. The trial will include at least 6800 randomized patients with diagnosis of COPD, ≥ 10 pack-year history of smoking, post-bronchodilator FEV1 ≤ 70% predicted, and a history of exacerbations in the previous year. The primary endpoint is time to first COPD exacerbation. Secondary endpoints include number of exacerbations and time to premature discontinuation of trial medication. The trial has been designed to address several of the challenges in studying exacerbations in a controlled trial by a symptom and event-based definition of exacerbations, frequent follow-up contacts, selection of time to first event as the primary endpoint and using exposure adjusted analysis when examining number of events. Other challenges in designing exacerbation trials such as differential discontinuation and follow-up of discontinued patients are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2672797  PMID: 19436693
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; exacerbation; salmeterol; study methodology; tiotropium
19.  Budesonide/formoterol as effective as prednisolone plus formoterol in acute exacerbations of COPD A double-blind, randomised, non-inferiority, parallel-group, multicentre study 
Respiratory Research  2009;10(1):11.
Oral corticosteroids and inhaled bronchodilators with or without antibiotics represent standard treatment of COPD exacerbations of moderate severity. Frequent courses of oral steroids may be a safety issue. We wanted to evaluate in an out-patient setting whether a 2-week course of inhaled budesonide/formoterol would be equally effective for treatment of acute COPD exacerbations as standard therapy in patients judged by the investigator not to require hospitalisation.
This was a double-blind, randomised, non-inferiority, parallel-group, multicentre study comparing two treatment strategies; two weeks' treatment with inhaled budesonide/formoterol (320/9 μg, qid) was compared with prednisolone (30 mg once daily) plus inhaled formoterol (9 μg bid) in patients with acute exacerbations of COPD attending a primary health care centre. Inclusion criteria were progressive dyspnoea for less than one week, FEV1 30–60% of predicted normal after acute treatment with a single dose of oral corticosteroid plus nebulised salbutamol/ipratropium bromide and no requirement for subsequent immediate hospitalisation, i.e the clinical status after the acute treatment allowed for sending the patient home.
A total of 109 patients (mean age 67 years, 33 pack-years, mean FEV1 45% of predicted) were randomized to two weeks' double-blind treatment with budesonide/formoterol or prednisolone plus formoterol and subsequent open-label budesonide/formoterol (320/9 μg bid) for another 12 weeks. Change in FEV1 was the primary efficacy variable. Non-inferiority was predefined.
Non-inferiority of budesonide/formoterol was proven because the lower limit of FEV1-change (97.5% CI) was above 90% of the efficacy of the alternative treatment. Symptoms, quality of life, treatment failures, need for reliever medication (and exacerbations during follow-up) did not differ between the groups. No safety concerns were identified.
High dose budesonide/formoterol was as effective as prednisolone plus formoterol for the ambulatory treatment of acute exacerbations in non-hospitalized COPD patients. An early increase in budesonide/formoterol dose may therefore be tried before oral corticosteroids are used.
Clinical trial registration
PMCID: PMC2653467  PMID: 19228428
20.  TNF-α, TNF-β, IL-6, and IL-10 Polymorphisms in Patients with Lung Cancer 
Disease Markers  2005;21(3):157-165.
Apart from cigarette smoking, genetic factors seem to be of importance in the development of lung cancer. The present case-control study investigated frequencies of five inflammatory response gene polymorphisms (TNF-α-308, TNF-β-Intron1-252, IL-6-174, IL-10-819 and IL-10-1082) in patients with lung cancer and controls. The study population consisted of 117 patients with lung cancer (77 patients with NSCLC, including 40 Squamous Cell Carcinoma and 26 Adenocarcinoma, and 40 patients with SCLC), 117 matched controls without pulmonary disease and 243 healthy individuals (population control). Genotype analyses revealed no difference in genotype frequencies using matched-pair analysis. However, in comparison to the population control, the IL-10-1082 genotypes carrying the G allele appeared with higher frequency in the SCLC group (p = 0.006) [SCLC: 84.6%, population controls: 64.6%]. This yields an odds ratio of 3.01 for SCLC (95% CI = [1.21, 7.48]). No associations were seen for all other polymorphisms analysed. The study raises the possibility of a correlation between the IL-10-1082_G allele and the presence of SCLC in a German population. The functional IL-10-1082 polymorphism correlates with altered IL-10 levels and might influence lung cancer susceptibility by altered inflammatory responses in the airways.
PMCID: PMC3851050  PMID: 16276011
22.  An angiogenic role for the human peptide antibiotic LL-37/hCAP-18 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2003;111(11):1665-1672.
Antimicrobial peptides are effector molecules of the innate immune system and contribute to host defense and regulation of inflammation. The human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide LL-37/hCAP-18 is expressed in leukocytes and epithelial cells and secreted into wound and airway surface fluid. Here we show that LL-37 induces angiogenesis mediated by formyl peptide receptor–like 1 expressed on endothelial cells. Application of LL-37 resulted in neovascularization in the chorioallantoic membrane assay and in a rabbit model of hind-limb ischemia. The peptide directly activates endothelial cells, resulting in increased proliferation and formation of vessel-like structures in cultivated endothelial cells. Decreased vascularization during wound repair in mice deficient for CRAMP, the murine homologue of LL-37/hCAP-18, shows that cathelicidin-mediated angiogenesis is important for cutaneous wound neovascularization in vivo. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that LL-37/hCAP-18 is a multifunctional antimicrobial peptide with a central role in innate immunity by linking host defense and inflammation with angiogenesis and arteriogenesis.
PMCID: PMC156109  PMID: 12782669
23.  Rhesus Monkey (Macaca mulatta) Mucosal Antimicrobial Peptides Are Close Homologues of Human Molecules 
One component of host defense at mucosal surfaces appears to be epithelium-derived antimicrobial peptides. Molecules of the defensin and cathelicidin families have been studied in several species, including human and mouse. We describe in this report the identification and characterization of rhesus monkey homologues of human mucosal antimicrobial peptides. Using reverse transcriptase PCR methodology, we cloned the cDNAs of rhesus monkey β-defensin 1 and 2 (rhBD-1 and rhBD-2) and rhesus monkey LL-37/CAP-18 (rhLL-37/rhCAP-18). The predicted amino acid sequences showed a high degree of homology to the human molecules. The expression of the monkey antimicrobial peptides was analyzed using immunohistochemistry with three polyclonal antibodies to the human molecules. As in humans, rhesus monkey antimicrobial peptides are expressed in epithelia of various organs. The present study demonstrates that β-defensins and cathelicidins of rhesus monkeys are close homologues to the human molecules and indicate that nonhuman primates represent valid model organisms to study innate immune functions.
PMCID: PMC96065  PMID: 11238224

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