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1.  Indications for distinct pathogenic mechanisms of asbestos and silica through gene expression profiling of the response of lung epithelial cells 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;24(5):1374-1389.
Occupational and environmental exposures to airborne asbestos and silica are associated with the development of lung fibrosis in the forms of asbestosis and silicosis, respectively. However, both diseases display distinct pathologic presentations, likely associated with differences in gene expression induced by different mineral structures, composition and bio-persistent properties. We hypothesized that effects of mineral exposure in the airway epithelium may dictate deviating molecular events that may explain the different pathologies of asbestosis versus silicosis. Using robust gene expression-profiling in conjunction with in-depth pathway analysis, we assessed early (24 h) alterations in gene expression associated with crocidolite asbestos or cristobalite silica exposures in primary human bronchial epithelial cells (NHBEs). Observations were confirmed in an immortalized line (BEAS-2B) by QRT-PCR and protein assays. Utilization of overall gene expression, unsupervised hierarchical cluster analysis and integrated pathway analysis revealed gene alterations that were common to both minerals or unique to either mineral. Our findings reveal that both minerals had potent effects on genes governing cell adhesion/migration, inflammation, and cellular stress, key features of fibrosis. Asbestos exposure was most specifically associated with aberrant cell proliferation and carcinogenesis, whereas silica exposure was highly associated with additional inflammatory responses, as well as pattern recognition, and fibrogenesis. These findings illustrate the use of gene-profiling as a means to determine early molecular events that may dictate pathological processes induced by exogenous cellular insults. In addition, it is a useful approach for predicting the pathogenicity of potentially harmful materials.
PMCID: PMC4402341  PMID: 25351596
2.  Common Genetic Variants Associated with Resting Oxygenation in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Hypoxemia is a major complication of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that correlates with disease prognosis. Identifying genetic variants associated with oxygenation may provide clues for deciphering the heterogeneity in prognosis among patients with COPD. However, previous genetic studies have been restricted to investigating COPD candidate genes for association with hypoxemia. To report results from the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of resting oxygen saturation (as measured by pulse oximetry [Spo2]) in subjects with COPD, we performed a GWAS of Spo2 in two large, well characterized COPD populations: COPDGene, including both the non-Hispanic white (NHW) and African American (AA) groups, and Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints (ECLIPSE). We identified several suggestive loci (P < 1 × 10−5) associated with Spo2 in COPDGene in the NHW (n = 2810) and ECLIPSE (n = 1758) groups, and two loci on chromosomes 14 and 15 in the AA group (n = 820) from COPDGene achieving a level of genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8). The chromosome 14 single-nucleotide polymorphism, rs6576132, located in an intergenic region, was nominally replicated (P < 0.05) in the NHW group from COPDGene. The chromosome 15 single-nucleotide polymorphisms were rare in subjects of European ancestry, so the results could not be replicated. The chromosome 15 region contains several genes, including TICRR and KIF7, and is proximal to RHCG (Rh family C glyocoprotein gene). We have identified two loci associated with resting oxygen saturation in AA subjects with COPD, and several suggestive regions in subjects of European descent with COPD. Our study highlights the importance of investigating the genetics of complex traits in different racial groups.
PMCID: PMC4224086  PMID: 24825563
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; hypoxemia; pulse oximetry; genome-wide association study; oxygen saturation
3.  Chest CT measures of muscle and adipose tissue in COPD: gender-based differences in content and in relationships with blood biomarkers 
Academic radiology  2014;21(10):1255-1261.
Rationale and Objective
Computed tomography (CT) of the chest can be used to assess pectoralis muscle area (PMA) and subcutaneous adipose tissue area (SAT). Adipose tissue content is associated with inflammatory mediators in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) subjects. Based on gender differences in body composition, we aimed to assess the hypothesis that in subjects with COPD the relationships between PMA, SAT, and blood biomarkers of inflammation differ by gender.
Materials and Methods
We compared chest CT measures of PMA and SAT on a single slice at aortic arch and supraesternal notch levels from 73 subjects (28 women) with COPD between genders. The relationships of PMA and SAT to biomarkers were assessed using within-gender regression models.
Women had a lower PMA and higher SAT than men (difference range for PMA, 13.3–22.8 cm2; for SAT, 11.8–12.4 cm2; P<0.05 for all comparisons) at both anatomic levels. These differences in PMA and SAT remained significant after adjustment for age and body mass index. Within-gender regression models adjusted for age showed that SAT was directly associated with C-reactive protein (for aortic arch level, P=0.04) and fibrinogen (for both anatomic locations, P=0.003) only in women, whereas PMA was not associated with any biomarkers in either gender.
It appears that in subjects with COPD there are gender-based differences in the relationships between subcutaneous adipose tissue and inflammatory biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC4389286  PMID: 25088837
4.  Implementing systems medicine within healthcare 
Genome Medicine  2015;7:102.
Editorial summary
The cause of a complex disease cannot be pinpointed to a single origin; rather, a highly complex network of many factors that interact on different levels over time and space is disturbed. This complexity requires novel approaches to diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. To foster the necessary shift to a pro-active systems medicine, proof-of-concept studies are needed. Here, we highlight several systems approaches that have been shown to work within the field of respiratory medicine, and we propose the next steps for broader implementation.
PMCID: PMC4587913  PMID: 26419521
5.  Immune Homeostasis in Epithelial Cells: Evidence and Role of Inflammasome Signaling Reviewed 
Journal of Immunology Research  2015;2015:828264.
The epithelium regulates the interaction between the noxious xenogenous, as well as the microbial environment and the immune system, not only by providing a barrier but also by expressing a number of immunoregulatory membrane receptors, and intracellular danger sensors and their downstream effectors. Amongst these are a number of inflammasome sensor subtypes, which have been initially characterized in myeloid cells and described to be activated upon assembly into multiprotein complexes by microbial and environmental triggers. This review compiles a vast amount of literature that supports a pivotal role for inflammasomes in the various epithelial barriers of the human body as essential factors maintaining immune signaling and homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC4556877  PMID: 26355424
6.  Impact of cardiovascular comorbidities on COPD Assessment Test (CAT) and its responsiveness to pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with moderate to very severe COPD: protocol of the Chance study 
BMJ Open  2015;5(7):e007536.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Patients with COPD are characterised by a reduced health status, which can be easily assessed by the COPD Assessment Test (CAT). Previous studies show that health status can be worsened by the presence of comorbidities. However, the impact of cardiovascular comorbidities on health status as assessed with CAT is not sufficiently investigated. Therefore, the current study has the following objectives: (1) to study the clinical, (patho)physiological and psychosocial determinants of the CAT, and impact of previously established and/or newly diagnosed cardiovascular comorbidities on health status in tertiary care patients with COPD; (2) to assess the effects of pulmonary rehabilitation on CAT scores in patients with COPD; (3) to develop reference values for the CAT in Dutch elderly patients without COPD; and (4) to validate the CAT in a broad sample of Dutch patients with COPD.
Methods and analysis
The COPD, Health status and Comorbidities (Chance) study is a monocentre study consisting of an observational cross-sectional part and a longitudinal part. Demographic and clinical characteristics will be assessed in primary care, secondary care and tertiary care patients with COPD, and in patients without COPD. To assess health status, the CAT, Clinical COPD Questionnaire (CCQ) and St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) will be used. The longitudinal part consists of a comprehensive pulmonary rehabilitation programme in 500 tertiary care patients. For the cross-sectional part of the study, 150 patients without COPD, 100 primary care patients and 100 secondary care patients will be assessed during a single home visit.
Ethics and dissemination
The Medical Ethical Committee of the Maastricht University Medical Centre+ (MUMC+), Maastricht, the Netherlands (METC 11-3-070), has approved this study. The study has been registered at the Dutch Trial Register (NTR 3416).
PMCID: PMC4513521  PMID: 26198426
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; COPD assessment test; Health status; Cardiovascular comorbidities
7.  Fracture prevention in COPD patients; a clinical 5-step approach 
Respiratory Research  2015;16(1):32.
Although osteoporosis and its related fractures are common in patients with COPD, patients at high risk of fracture are poorly identified, and consequently, undertreated. Since there are no fracture prevention guidelines available that focus on COPD patients, we developed a clinical approach to improve the identification and treatment of COPD patients at high risk of fracture. We organised a round-table discussion with 8 clinical experts in the field of COPD and fracture prevention in the Netherlands in December 2013. The clinical experts presented a review of the literature on COPD, osteoporosis and fracture prevention. Based on the Dutch fracture prevention guideline, they developed a 5-step clinical approach for fracture prevention in COPD. Thereby, they took into account both classical risk factors for fracture (low body mass index, older age, personal and family history of fracture, immobility, smoking, alcohol intake, use of glucocorticoids and increased fall risk) and COPD-specific risk factors for fracture (severe airflow obstruction, pulmonary exacerbations and oxygen therapy). Severe COPD (defined as postbronchodilator FEV1 < 50% predicted) was added as COPD-specific risk factor to the list of classical risk factors for fracture. The 5-step clinical approach starts with case finding using clinical risk factors, followed by risk evaluation (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and imaging of the spine), differential diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. This systematic clinical approach, which is evidence-based and easy-to-use in daily practice by pulmonologists, should contribute to optimise fracture prevention in COPD patients at high risk of fracture.
PMCID: PMC4353452  PMID: 25848824
COPD; Osteoporosis; Fracture; Prevention; Therapy
8.  Quantitative Computed Tomography Measures of Pectoralis Muscle Area and Disease Severity in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. A Cross-Sectional Study 
Rationale: Muscle wasting in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with a poor prognosis and is not readily assessed by measures of body mass index (BMI). BMI does not discriminate between relative proportions of adipose tissue and lean muscle and may be insensitive to early pathologic changes in body composition. Computed tomography (CT)–based assessments of the pectoralis muscles may provide insight into the clinical significance of skeletal muscles in smokers.
Objectives: We hypothesized that objective assessment of the pectoralis muscle area on chest CT scans provides information that is clinically relevant and independent of BMI.
Methods: Data from the ECLIPSE (Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints) Study (n = 73) were used to assess the relationship between pectoralis muscle area and fat-free mass. We then used data in a subset (n = 966) of a larger cohort, the COPDGene (COPD Genetic Epidemiology) Study, to explore the relationship between pectoralis muscle area and COPD-related traits.
Measurements and Main Results: We first investigated the correlation between pectoralis muscle area and fat-free mass, using data from a subset of participants in the ECLIPSE Study. We then further investigated pectoralis muscle area in COPDGene Study participants and found that higher pectoralis muscle area values were associated with greater height, male sex, and younger age. On subsequent clinical correlation, compared with BMI, pectoralis muscle area was more significantly associated with COPD-related traits, including spirometric measures, dyspnea, and 6-minute-walk distance (6MWD). For example, on average, each 10-cm2 increase in pectoralis muscle area was associated with a 0.8-unit decrease in the BODE (Body mass index, Obstruction, Dyspnea, Exercise) index (95% confidence interval, –1.0 to –0.6; P < 0.001). Furthermore, statistically significant associations between pectoralis muscle area and COPD-related traits remained even after adjustment for BMI.
Conclusions: CT-derived pectoralis muscle area provides relevant indices of COPD morbidity that may be more predictive of important COPD-related traits than BMI. However, the relationship with clinically relevant outcomes such as hospitalization and death requires additional investigation. Pectoralis muscle area is a convenient measure that can be collected in the clinical setting in addition to BMI.
PMCID: PMC4028743  PMID: 24558953
COPD; wasting; pectoral muscle area; imaging
9.  Silica-induced NLRP3 inflammasome activation in vitro and in rat lungs 
Mineral particles in the lung cause inflammation and silicosis. In myeloid and bronchial epithelial cells the inflammasome plays a role in responses to crystalline silica. Thioredoxin (TRX) and its inhibitory protein TRX-interacting protein link oxidative stress with inflammasome activation. We investigated inflammasome activation by crystalline silica polymorphs and modulation by TRX in vitro, as well as its localization and the importance of silica surface reactivity in rats.
We exposed bronchial epithelial cells and differentiated macrophages to silica polymorphs quartz and cristobalite and measured caspase-1 activity as well as the release of IL-1β, bFGF and HMGB1; including after TRX overexpression or treatment with recombinant TRX. Rats were intratracheally instilled with vehicle control, Dörentruper quartz (DQ12) or DQ12 coated with polyvinylpyridine N-oxide. At days 3, 7, 28, 90, 180 and 360 five animals per treatment group were sacrificed. Hallmarks of silicosis were assessed with Haematoxylin-eosin and Sirius Red stainings. Caspase-1 activity in the bronchoalveolar lavage and caspase-1 and IL-1β localization in lung tissue were determined using Western blot and immunohistochemistry (IHC).
Silica polymorphs triggered secretion of IL-1β, bFGF and HMGB1 in a surface reactivity dependent manner. Inflammasome readouts linked with caspase-1 enzymatic activity were attenuated by TRX overexpression or treatment. At day 3 and 7 increased caspase-1 activity was detected in BALF of the DQ12 group and increased levels of caspase-1 and IL-1β were observed with IHC in the DQ12 group compared to controls. DQ12 exposure revealed silicotic nodules at 180 and 360 days. Particle surface modification markedly attenuated the grade of inflammation and lymphocyte influx and attenuated the level of inflammasome activation, indicating that the development of silicosis and inflammasome activation is determined by crystalline silica surface reactivity.
Our novel data indicate the pivotal role of surface reactivity of crystalline silica to activate the inflammasome in cultures of both epithelial cells and macrophages. Inhibitory capacity of the antioxidant TRX to inflammasome activation was evidenced. DQ12 quartz exposure induced acute and chronic functional activation of the inflammasome in the heterogeneous cell populations of the lung in associated with its crystalline surface reactivity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12989-014-0058-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4243278  PMID: 25406505
Crystalline silica; NLRP3 inflammasome; Caspase-1; IL-1β; HMGB1; bFGF; TRX; PVNO
10.  An observational, longitudinal study on the home environment of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: the research protocol of the Home Sweet Home study 
BMJ Open  2014;4(11):e006098.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) represents an important public health challenge. Patients are confronted with limitations during activities of daily living (ADLs). Resident loved ones of patients with COPD may be uniquely positioned to witness these limitations. COPD may have an impact on not only the patients’ life, but also on the lives of the resident loved ones. Furthermore, COPD exacerbation-related hospital admissions often occur in patients with COPD. However, whether and to what extent these admissions influence resident loved ones’ burden and health status remains currently unknown. Therefore, the primary objectives of this study are to investigate the differences between patients with COPD and resident loved ones’ perceptions of patients’ health status and problematic ADLs and to study prospectively the effects of a COPD exacerbation on resident loved ones’ perceptions of patients’ health status and problematic ADLs.
Methods and analysis
An observational, longitudinal study will be performed in 192 patients with COPD and their 192 resident loved ones. Primary outcomes are daily functioning, ADL, disease-specific health status, generic health status and dyspnoea. These will be assessed during home visits at baseline and after 12 months. Additional home visits will be performed when a COPD exacerbation-related hospital admission occurs during the 12-month follow-up period.
Ethics and dissemination
This protocol was approved by the Medical Ethics Committee of the Catharina Hospital Eindhoven, the Netherlands (NL42721.060.12/M12-1280) and is registered in the Dutch Trial Register (NTR3941).
PMCID: PMC4244479  PMID: 25384686
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; Home environment; Resident loved one; Family caregiver; Activities of Daily Living; Quality of Life
11.  Cigarette Smoke Extract Induces a Phenotypic Shift in Epithelial Cells; Involvement of HIF1α in Mesenchymal Transition 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e107757.
In COPD, matrix remodeling contributes to airflow limitation. Recent evidence suggests that next to fibroblasts, the process of epithelial-mesenchymal transition can contribute to matrix remodeling. CSE has been shown to induce EMT in lung epithelial cells, but the signaling mechanisms involved are largely unknown and subject of this study. EMT was assessed in A549 and BEAS2B cells stimulated with CSE by qPCR, Western blotting and immunofluorescence for epithelial and mesenchymal markers, as were collagen production, cell adhesion and barrier integrity as functional endpoints. Involvement of TGF-β and HIF1α signaling pathways were investigated. In addition, mouse models were used to examine the effects of CS on hypoxia signaling and of hypoxia per se on mesenchymal expression. CSE induced EMT characteristics in A549 and BEAS2B cells, evidenced by decreased expression of epithelial markers and a concomitant increase in mesenchymal marker expression after CSE exposure. Furthermore cells that underwent EMT showed increased production of collagen, decreased adhesion and disrupted barrier integrity. The induction of EMT was found to be independent of TGF-β signaling. On the contrary, CS was able to induce hypoxic signaling in A549 and BEAS2B cells as well as in mice lung tissue. Importantly, HIF1α knock-down prevented induction of mesenchymal markers, increased collagen production and decreased adhesion after CSE exposure, data that are in line with the observed induction of mesenchymal marker expression by hypoxia in vitro and in vivo. Together these data provide evidence that both bronchial and alveolar epithelial cells undergo a functional phenotypic shift in response to CSE exposure which can contribute to increased collagen deposition in COPD lungs. Moreover, HIF1α signaling appears to play an important role in this process.
PMCID: PMC4199572  PMID: 25329389
12.  Metabolic load during strength training or NMES in individuals with COPD: results from the DICES trial 
BMC Pulmonary Medicine  2014;14:146.
Strength training and neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) are effective training modalities for improving muscle function, exercise performance and health status in individuals with COPD. The aim of the present study was to analyze the metabolic load of these training modalities at baseline, half-way, and at the end of an eight-week interdisciplinary pulmonary rehabilitation program in a subgroup of individuals with COPD of the DICES trial.
Of 24 individuals with COPD (FEV1: 34 ± 2% predicted, men: 58%, age: 66 (61–68) years), peak oxygen uptake (VO2), peak minute ventilation (VE), heart rate, oxygen saturation and symptom scores were assessed during HF-NMES (75 Hz), LF-NMES (15 Hz) and strength training at three moments during their pulmonary rehabilitation program.
Intervention-related peak VO2 did not change over time during HF-NMES, LF-NMES or strength training. Intervention-related peak VE did not change over time during strength training or LF-NMES and increased slightly, but significantly over time during HF-NMES. Peak VO2 and VE were significantly higher during strength training compared to HF-NMES or LF-NMES. Oxygen saturation significantly decreased after the first measurements during HF-NMES and strength training group to baseline, while no significant changes in oxygen saturation were observed during the other measurements. Heart rate significantly increased compared to baseline in all groups at all moments and was significantly higher after strength training compared to HF-NMES or LF-NMES. Median end scores (points) for dyspnea, fatigue and muscle pain ranged from 1 to 3, from 0.5 to 2 and from 0 to 6 after HF-NMES, from 2 to 3, from 2 to 5 and from 0 to 9 after LF-NMES and from 2 to 5, from 1.5 to 4 and from 0 to 28 after strength training respectively.
To conclude, the metabolic load and symptom scores remain acceptable low over time with increasing training loads during HF-NMES, LF-NMES or strength training.
Trial registration
Trial registration:NTR2322
PMCID: PMC4236758  PMID: 25182377
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Neuromuscular electrical stimulation; Pulmonary rehabilitation; Strength training
13.  Leptin as regulator of pulmonary immune responses: Involvement in respiratory diseases 
Leptin is an adipocyte-derived hormone, recognized as a critical mediator of the balance between food intake and energy expenditure by signalling through its functional receptor (Ob-Rb) in the hypothalamus. Structurally, leptin belongs to the long-chain helical cytokine family, and is now known to have pleiotropic functions in both innate and adaptive immunity. The presence of the functional leptin receptor in the lung together with evidence of increased airspace leptin levels arising during pulmonary inflammation, suggests an important role for leptin in lung development, respiratory immune responses and eventually pathogenesis of inflammatory respiratory diseases. The purpose of this article is to review our current understanding of leptin and its functional role on the different resident cell types of the lung in health as well as in the context of three major respiratory conditions being chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and pneumonia.
PMCID: PMC4122282  PMID: 23542720
Leptin; Asthma; COPD; Pneumonia; Pulmonary immunity
14.  Influence of diet and obesity on COPD development and outcomes 
The global increase in the prevalence and incidence of obesity has called serious attention to this issue as a major public health concern. Obesity is associated with many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and recently the role of overweight and obesity in lung disease has received new interest. Independently of obesity, diet also plays a role as a risk factor for many chronic diseases, and evidence is accumulating to support a role for diet in the prevention and management of several lung diseases. Chronic obstructive lung disease is the third-leading cause of death globally, and both obesity and diet appear to play roles in its pathophysiology. Obesity has been associated with decreased lung-function measures in population-based studies, with increased prevalence of several lung diseases and with compromised pulmonary function. In contrast, obesity has a protective effect against mortality in severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Nutrient intake and dietary patterns have also been associated with lung-function measures and the development and progression of COPD. Taken together, this suggests that a focus on obesity and diet should be part of public health campaigns to reduce the burden of lung disease, and could have important implications for clinicians in the management of their patients. Future research should also focus on elucidating these relationships in diverse populations and age-groups, and on understanding the complex interaction between behavior, environment, and genetics in the development and progression of COPD. The goal of this article is to review current evidence regarding the role that obesity and diet play in the development of COPD, and in COPD-related outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4130708  PMID: 25125974
diet; obesity; nutrition; lung function; COPD
15.  Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome in COPD Patients and Its Consequences 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98013.
The prevalence of metabolic syndrome in COPD patients and its impact on patient related outcomes has been little studied. We evaluated the prevalence of metabolic syndrome and clinical and functional characteristics in patients with COPD and healthy subjects.
228 COPD patients and 156 healthy subjects were included. Metabolic syndrome was defined using criteria of the IDF. In all patients spirometry, body composition, functional exercise performance, and mood and health status were assessed. Groups were stratified for BMI and gender.
Metabolic syndrome was present in 57% of the COPD patients and 40% of the healthy subjects. After stratification for BMI, presence of metabolic syndrome in patients with a BMI ≥25 kg/m2 was higher than in healthy peers. Patients with metabolic syndrome and a BMI <25 kg/m2 had higher BMI, fat free mass index and bone mineral density, and a lower 6MWD than the BMI matched patients without metabolic syndrome. Spirometry, maximal ergometry, mood and health status, and blood gases were not different between those groups. In COPD patients with metabolic syndrome self-reported co-morbidities and medication use were higher than in those without.
Metabolic syndrome is more prevalent in overweight or obese COPD patients than in BMI matched healthy subjects. Metabolic syndrome did not additionally impact patients' functional outcomes, but did impact the prevalence of co-morbidities.
PMCID: PMC4064974  PMID: 24950070
16.  Early body weight loss during concurrent chemo-radiotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer 
Background and purpose
Radiation-esophagitis and weight loss are frequently observed toxicities in patients treated with concurrent chemo-radiotherapy (CT-RT) for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and might be related. The purpose was to investigate whether weight loss already starts early after initiation of CT-RT and precedes radiation-esophagitis.
Materials and methods
In a retrospective cohort, weight and esophagitis grade ≥2 were assessed during the first weeks of (CT-)RT in patients treated with concurrent (n = 102) or sequential (n = 92) therapy. In a prospective validation study, data on body weight, esophagitis grade ≥2, nutritional intake and muscle strength were obtained before, during and following CT-RT.
In the retrospective cohort, early weight loss was observed in concurrently treated patients (p = 0.002), independent of esophagitis ≥ grade 2. Early weight loss was also observed in the prospective cohort (p = 0.003) and was not accompanied by decreases in nutritional intake. In addition lower limb muscle strength rapidly declined (p = 0.042). In the later weeks of treatment, further body weight loss occurred (p < 0.001) despite increased nutritional supplementation and body weight was only partly recovered after 4 weeks post CT-RT (p = 0.003).
Weight loss during concurrent CT-RT for NSCLC starts early and prior to onset of esophagitis, requiring timely and intense nutritional rehabilitation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13539-013-0127-5) contains supplementary material.
PMCID: PMC4053563  PMID: 24452446
Weight loss; Chemotherapy; Concurrent; Esophagitis; Non-small cell lung cancer; Radiotherapy
17.  Characteristics and determinants of endurance cycle ergometry and six-minute walk distance in patients with COPD 
Exercise tolerance can be assessed by the cycle endurance test (CET) and six-minute walk test (6MWT) in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). We sought to investigate the characteristics of functional exercise performance and determinants of the CET and 6MWT in a large clinical cohort of COPD patients.
A dataset of 2053 COPD patients (43% female, age: 66.9 ± 9.5 years, FEV1% predicted: 48.2 ± 23.2) was analyzed retrospectively. Patients underwent, amongst others, respiratory function evaluation; medical tests and questionnaires, one maximal incremental cycle test where peak work rate was determined and two functional exercise tests: a CET at 75% of peak work rate and 6MWT. A stepwise multiple linear regression was used to assess determinants.
On average, patients had impaired exercise tolerance (peak work rate: 56 ± 27% predicted, 6MWT: 69 ± 17% predicted). A total of 2002 patients had CET time of duration (CET-Tend) less than 20 min while only 51 (2.5%) of the patients achieved 20 min of CET-Tend . In former patients, the percent of predicted peak work rate achieved differed significantly between men (48 ± 21% predicted) and women (67 ± 31% predicted). In contrast, CET-Tend was longer in men (286 ± 174 s vs 250 ± 153 s, p < 0.001). Also, six minute walking distance (6MWD) was higher in men compared to women, both in absolute terms as in percent of predicted (443 m, 67%predicted vs 431 m, 72%predicted, p < 0.05). Gender was associated with the CET-Tend but BMI, FEV1 and FRC were related to the 6MWD highlighting the different determinants of exercise performance between CET and 6MWT.
CET-Tend is a valuable outcome of CET as it is related to multiple clinical aspects of disease severity in COPD. Gender difference should temper the interpretation of CET.
PMCID: PMC4229855  PMID: 24885117
Exercise; 6MWT; CET; CPET; COPD
18.  Similar matrix alterations in alveolar and small airway walls of COPD patients 
Remodelling in COPD has at least two dimensions: small airway wall thickening and destruction of alveolar walls. Recent studies indicate that there is some similarity between alveolar and small airway wall matrix remodelling. The aim of this study was to characterise and assess similarities in alveolar and small airway wall matrix remodelling, and TGF-β signalling in COPD patients of different GOLD stages.
Lung tissue sections of 14 smoking controls, 16 GOLD II and 19 GOLD IV patients were included and stained for elastin and collagens as well as hyaluronan, a glycosaminoglycan matrix component and pSMAD2.
Elastin was significantly decreased in COPD patients not only in alveolar, but also in small airway walls. Interestingly, both collagen and hyaluronan were increased in alveolar as well as small airway walls. The matrix changes were highly comparable between GOLD stages, with collagen content in the alveolar wall increasing further in GOLD IV. A calculated remodelling index, defined as elastin divided over collagen and hyaluronan, was decreased significantly in GOLD II and further lowered in GOLD IV patients, suggesting that matrix component alterations are involved in progressive airflow limitation. Interestingly, there was a positive correlation present between the alveolar and small airway wall stainings of the matrix components, as well as for pSMAD2. No differences in pSMAD2 staining between controls and COPD patients were found.
In conclusion, remodelling in the alveolar and small airway wall in COPD is markedly similar and already present in moderate COPD. Notably, alveolar collagen and a remodelling index relate to lung function.
PMCID: PMC4055380  PMID: 24886452
19.  COgnitive-Pulmonary Disease 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:697825.
Over the past few decades, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) has been considered a disease of the lungs, often caused by smoking. Nowadays, COPD is regarded as a systemic disease. Both physical effects and effects on brains, including impaired psychological and cognitive functioning, have been demonstrated. Patients with COPD may have cognitive impairment, either globally or in single cognitive domains, such as information processing, attention and concentration, memory, executive functioning, and self-control. Possible causes are hypoxemia, hypercapnia, exacerbations, and decreased physical activity. Cognitive impairment in these patients may be related to structural brain abnormalities, such as gray-matter pathologic changes and the loss of white matter integrity which can be induced by smoking. Cognitive impairment can have a negative impact on health and daily life and may be associated with widespread consequences for disease management programs. It is important to assess cognitive functioning in patients with COPD in order to optimize patient-oriented treatment and to reduce personal discomfort, hospital admissions, and mortality. This paper will summarize the current knowledge about cognitive impairment as extrapulmonary feature of COPD. Hereby, the impact of smoking on cognitive functioning and the impact of cognitive impairment on smoking behaviour will be examined.
PMCID: PMC3971492  PMID: 24738069
20.  The COgnitive-Pulmonary Disease (COgnitive-PD) study: protocol of a longitudinal observational comparative study on neuropsychological functioning of patients with COPD 
BMJ Open  2014;4(3):e004495.
Intact cognitive functioning is necessary for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to understand the value of healthy lifestyle guidelines, to make informed decisions and subsequently act on it. Nevertheless, brain abnormalities and cognitive impairment have been found in patients with COPD. To date, it remains unknown which cognitive domains are affected and what the possible consequences are of cognitive impairment. Therefore, objectives of the study described are to determine neuropsychological functioning in patients with COPD, and its influence on health status, daily functioning and pulmonary rehabilitation outcome. Furthermore, structural and functional brain abnormalities and the relationship with cognitive and daily functioning will be explored.
Methods and analysis
A longitudinal observational comparative study will be performed in 183 patients with COPD referred for pulmonary rehabilitation and in 90 healthy control participants. Demographic and clinical characteristics, activities of daily living and knowledge about COPD will be assessed. Baseline cognitive functioning will be compared between patients and controls using a detailed neuropsychological testing battery. An MRI substudy will be performed to compare brain abnormalities between 35 patients with COPD with cognitive impairment and 35 patients with COPD without cognitive impairment. Patients will be recruited between November 2013 and November 2015.
Ethics and dissemination
The study has been approved by the Medical Ethics Committee of the University Hospital Maastricht and Maastricht University (NL45127.068.13/METC 13-3-035) and is registered in the Dutch trial register. All participants will provide written informed consent and can withdraw from the study at any point in time. Assessment and home visit data material will be managed anonymously. The results obtained can be used to optimise patient-oriented treatment for cognitively impaired patients with COPD. The findings will be disseminated in international peer-reviewed journals and through research conferences.
PMCID: PMC3948451  PMID: 24589828
Respiratory Medicine (see Thoracic Medicine); Neuropathology
21.  Association of plasma sRAGE, but not esRAGE with lung function impairment in COPD 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):24.
Plasma soluble Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Product (sRAGE) is considered as a biomarker in COPD. The contribution of endogenous sRAGE (esRAGE) to the pool of plasma sRAGE and the implication of both markers in COPD pathogenesis is however not clear yet. The aim of the current study was therefore to measure plasma levels of esRAGE comparative to total sRAGE in patients with COPD and a control group. Further, we established the relations of esRAGE and total sRAGE with disease specific characteristics such as lung function and DLCO, and with different circulating AGEs.
Plasma levels of esRAGE and sRAGE were measured in an 88 patients with COPD and in 55 healthy controls. FEV1 (%predicted) and FEV1/VC (%) were measured in both groups; DLCO (%predicted) was measured in patients only. In this study population we previously reported that the AGE Nϵ-(carboxymethyl) lysine (CML) was decreased, Nϵ-(carboxyethyl) lysine (CEL) increased and pentosidine was not different in plasma of COPD patients compared to controls.
Plasma esRAGE (COPD: 533.9 ± 412.4, Controls: 848.7 ± 690.3 pg/ml; p = 0.000) was decreased in COPD compared to controls. No significant correlations were observed between plasma esRAGE levels and lung function parameters or plasma AGEs. A positive correlation was present between esRAGE and total sRAGE levels in the circulation. Confirming previous findings, total sRAGE (COPD: 512.6 ± 403.8, Controls: 1834 ± 804.2 pg/ml; p < 0.001) was lower in patients compared to controls and was positively correlated FEV1 (r = 0.235, p = 0.032), FEV1/VC (r = 0.218, p = 0.047), and DLCO (r = 0.308, p = 0.006). sRAGE furthermore did show a significant positive association with CML (r = 0.321, p = 0.003).
Although plasma esRAGE is decreased in COPD patients compared to controls, only total sRAGE showed a significant and independent association with FEV1, FEV1/VC and DLCO, indicating that total sRAGE but not esRAGE may serve as marker of COPD disease state and severity.
PMCID: PMC3944004  PMID: 24564838
23.  A randomised controlled trial on the efficacy of advance care planning on the quality of end-of-life care and communication in patients with COPD: the research protocol 
BMJ Open  2014;4(1):e004465.
Recent research shows that advance care planning (ACP) for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is uncommon and poorly carried out. The aim of the present study was to explore whether and to what extent structured ACP by a trained nurse, in collaboration with the chest physician, can improve outcomes in Dutch patients with COPD and their family.
Methods and analysis
A multicentre cluster randomised controlled trial in patients with COPD who are recently discharged after an exacerbation has been designed. Patients will be recruited from three Dutch hospitals and will be assigned to an intervention or control group, depending on the randomisation of their chest physician. Patients will be assessed at baseline and after 6 and 12 months. The intervention group will receive a structured ACP session by a trained nurse. The primary outcomes are quality of communication about end-of-life care, symptoms of anxiety and depression, quality of end-of-life care and quality of dying. Secondary outcomes include concordance between patient's preferences for end-of-life care and received end-of-life care, and psychological distress in bereaved family members of deceased patients. Intervention and control groups will be compared using univariate analyses and clustered regression analysis.
Ethics and dissemination
Ethical approval was received from the Medical Ethical Committee of the Catharina Hospital Eindhoven, the Netherlands (NL42437.060.12). The current project provides recommendations for guidelines on palliative care in COPD and supports implementation of ACP in the regular clinical care.
Clinical trial registration number
PMCID: PMC3902375  PMID: 24384905
Advance Care Planning; End-of-life Care; Palliative Care; COPD
24.  Genome-Wide Association Analysis of Blood Biomarkers in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Rationale: A genome-wide association study (GWAS) for circulating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) biomarkers could identify genetic determinants of biomarker levels and COPD susceptibility.
Objectives: To identify genetic variants of circulating protein biomarkers and novel genetic determinants of COPD.
Methods: GWAS was performed for two pneumoproteins, Clara cell secretory protein (CC16) and surfactant protein D (SP-D), and five systemic inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, IL-6, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor-α) in 1,951 subjects with COPD. For genome-wide significant single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (P < 1 × 10−8), association with COPD susceptibility was tested in 2,939 cases with COPD and 1,380 smoking control subjects. The association of candidate SNPs with mRNA expression in induced sputum was also elucidated.
Measurements and Main Results: Genome-wide significant susceptibility loci affecting biomarker levels were found only for the two pneumoproteins. Two discrete loci affecting CC16, one region near the CC16 coding gene (SCGB1A1) on chromosome 11 and another locus approximately 25 Mb away from SCGB1A1, were identified, whereas multiple SNPs on chromosomes 6 and 16, in addition to SNPs near SFTPD, had genome-wide significant associations with SP-D levels. Several SNPs affecting circulating CC16 levels were significantly associated with sputum mRNA expression of SCGB1A1 (P = 0.009–0.03). Several SNPs highly associated with CC16 or SP-D levels were nominally associated with COPD in a collaborative GWAS (P = 0.001–0.049), although these COPD associations were not replicated in two additional cohorts.
Conclusions: Distant genetic loci and biomarker-coding genes affect circulating levels of COPD-related pneumoproteins. A subset of these protein quantitative trait loci may influence their gene expression in the lung and/or COPD susceptibility.
Clinical trial registered with (NCT 00292552).
PMCID: PMC3622441  PMID: 23144326
biomarker; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genome-wide association study
25.  Associations between COPD related manifestations: a cross-sectional study 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):129.
Cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and emphysema are associated with COPD. Associations between these factors and whether they predict all-cause mortality in COPD patients are not well understood. Therefore, we examined associations between markers of cardiovascular disease (coronary artery calcification [CAC], thoracic aortic calcification [TAC] and arterial stiffness), bone density (bone attenuation of the thoracic vertebrae), emphysema (PI-950 and 15th percentile) and all-cause mortality in a COPD cohort.
We assessed CAC, TAC, bone attenuation of the thoracic vertebrae, PI-950 and 15th percentile on low-dose chest computed tomography in COPD subjects. We measured arterial stiffness as carotid-radial pulse wave velocity (PWV), and identified deaths from the national register.
We studied 119 COPD subjects; aged 67.8 ±7.3, 66% were males and mean FEV1% predicted was 46.0 ±17.5. Subjects were classified into three pre-specificed groups: CAC = 0 (n = 14), 0 < CAC ≤ 400 (n = 41) and CAC > 400 (n = 64). Subjects with higher CAC were more likely to be older (p < 0.001) and male (p = 0.03), and more likely to have higher systolic blood pressure (p = 0.001) and a history of hypertension (p = 0.002) or ischemic heart disease (p = 0.003). Higher CAC was associated with higher PWV (OR 1.62, p = 0.04) and lower bone attenuation (OR 0.32, p = 0.02), but not with 15th percentile, after adjustment for age, sex and pack-years of smoking. In a Cox proportional hazards model, CAC, TAC and 15th percentile predicted all-cause mortality (HR 2.01, 2.09 and 0.66, respectively).
Increased CAC was associated with increased arterial stiffness and lower bone density in a COPD cohort. In addition, CAC, TAC and extent of emphysema predicted all-cause mortality.
Trial registration
Lothian NHS Board, Lothian Research Ethics Committee, LREC/2003/8/28.
PMCID: PMC3840707  PMID: 24251912
Arterial calcification; Arterial stiffness; Bone density; Cardiovascular disease; Co-morbidity; Computed tomography; COPD; Emphysema; Mortality; Osteoporosis

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