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1.  The Effect of Inhaled IFN-β on Worsening of Asthma Symptoms Caused by Viral Infections. A Randomized Trial 
Rationale: Ex vivo, bronchial epithelial cells from people with asthma are more susceptible to rhinovirus infection caused by deficient induction of the antiviral protein, IFN-β. Exogenous IFN-β restores antiviral activity.
Objectives: To compare the efficacy and safety of inhaled IFN-β with placebo administered to people with asthma after onset of cold symptoms to prevent or attenuate asthma symptoms caused by respiratory viruses.
Methods: A total of 147 people with asthma on inhaled corticosteroids (British Thoracic Society Steps 2–5), with a history of virus-associated exacerbations, were randomized to 14-day treatment with inhaled IFN-β (n = 72) or placebo (n = 75) within 24 hours of developing cold symptoms and were assessed clinically, with relevant samples collected to assess virus infection and antiviral responses.
Measurements and Main Results: A total of 91% of randomized patients developed a defined cold. In this modified intention-to-treat population, asthma symptoms did not get clinically significantly worse (mean change in six-item Asthma Control Questionnaire <0.5) and IFN-β treatment had no significant effect on this primary endpoint, although it enhanced morning peak expiratory flow recovery (P = 0.033), reduced the need for additional treatment, and boosted innate immunity as assessed by blood and sputum biomarkers. In an exploratory analysis of the subset of more difficult-to-treat, Step 4-5 people with asthma (n = 27 IFN-β; n = 31 placebo), Asthma Control Questionnaire-6 increased significantly on placebo; this was prevented by IFN-β (P = 0.004).
Conclusions: Although the trial did not meet its primary endpoint, it suggests that inhaled IFN-β is a potential treatment for virus-induced deteriorations of asthma in difficult-to-treat people with asthma and supports the need for further, adequately powered, trials in this population.
Clinical trial registered with (NCT 01126177).
PMCID: PMC4226052  PMID: 24937476
innate immunity; treatment; respiratory virus
2.  Gene expression changes caused by the p38 MAPK inhibitor dilmapimod in COPD patients: analysis of blood and sputum samples from a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial 
The p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) intracellular signaling pathway responds to a variety of extracellular stimuli, including cytokines, Toll-like receptor agonists, and components of cigarette smoke to influence the expression of proinflammatory mediators. Activation of p38 MAPK is increased within the lungs of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. In clinical trials, treatment of COPD patients with p38 MAPK inhibitors has been shown to reduce systemic inflammation plasma biomarkers C-reactive protein (CRP) and fibrinogen. As CRP and fibrinogen have been associated with poor clinical outcomes in COPD patients, such as mortality, exacerbation, and hospitalization, we analyzed gene expression data from COPD subjects treated with dilmapimod with the aim of understanding the effects of p38 MAPK inhibition on the inflammatory genome of immune cells within the systemic circulation. Whole blood and induced sputum samples were used to measure mRNA levels by gene array and PCR. Pathway and network analysis showed STAT1, MMP-9, CAV1, and IL-1β as genes regulated by dilmapimod that could also influence fibrinogen levels, while only IL-1β was identified as a gene regulated by dilmapimod that could influence CRP levels. This suggests that p38 MAPK inhibits specific inflammatory pathways, leading to to differential effects on CRP and fibrinogen levels in COPD patients.
PMCID: PMC4317226
C-reactive protein; dilmapimod; gene expression; P38 mitogen activated protein kinase
3.  Efficacy and safety of aclidinium bromide/formoterol fumarate fixed-dose combinations compared with individual components and placebo in patients with COPD (ACLIFORM-COPD): a multicentre, randomised study 
BMC Pulmonary Medicine  2014;14(1):178.
Aclidinium/formoterol is a twice-daily (BID) fixed-dose combination (FDC) in development for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The efficacy and safety of aclidinium/formoterol versus monotherapy and placebo in patients with COPD was assessed.
In this 24-week double-blind, parallel-group, active- and placebo-controlled, multicentre Phase III study, patients (≥40 years, post-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1]/forced vital capacity <70% and FEV1 ≥30% but <80% predicted normal) were randomised 2:2:2:2:1 to aclidinium/formoterol 400/12 μg (n = 385) or 400/6 μg (n = 381), aclidinium 400 μg (n = 385), formoterol 12 μg (n = 384) or placebo (n = 194) BID via Genuair®/Pressair®a.
At Week 24, aclidinium/formoterol 400/12 μg and 400/6 μg lead to significant improvements from baseline in 1-hour post-dose FEV1 versus aclidinium (125 mL [95% CI: 90, 160; p < 0 · 001] and 69 mL [95% CI: 34, 105; p < 0.001], respectively) and trough FEV1 versus formoterol (85 mL [95% CI: 51, 119; p < 0.001] and 53 mL [95% CI: 19, 87; p < 0.01], respectively; co-primary endpoints). Additionally, aclidinium/formoterol 400/12 μg and 400/6 μg provided significant improvements in Transition Dyspnoea Index (TDI) focal score versus placebo (1.29 units [95% CI: 0.73, 1.86; p < 0.001] and 1.16 units [95% CI: 0.59, 1.73; p < 0.001], respectively; secondary endpoint). All treatments were well tolerated, with safety profiles of the FDCs similar to those of placebo and monotherapy.
Both aclidinium/formoterol BID doses significantly improved bronchodilation versus monotherapy, and dyspnoea versus placebo, with no increase in safety risk. Aclidinium/formoterol may be an effective treatment for patients with COPD.
Trial registration NCT01462942.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2466-14-178) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4273456  PMID: 25404569
Aclidinium bromide/formoterol fumarate; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Fixed-dose combination
4.  A dose-ranging study of the bronchodilator effects of abediterol (LAS100977), a long-acting β2-adrenergic agonist, in asthma; a Phase II, randomized study 
BMC Pulmonary Medicine  2014;14(1):176.
Long-acting β2-adrenergic agonists (LABAs) are recommended in combination with inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs) for asthma management. Abediterol is a novel, selective, potent, once-daily LABA in development for treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This study aimed to determine abediterol doses with similar peak bronchodilatory effect to salbutamol 400 μg, and duration of action compatible with once-daily dosing in patients with persistent, stable asthma.
This was a Phase II, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, crossover, placebo-controlled, dose-ranging study ( NCT01425801) in 62 patients with mild-to-moderate asthma who were also receiving an ICS. Patients received single doses of abediterol 0.313, 0.625, 1.25, or 2.5 μg, salbutamol 400 μg, or placebo in the morning. Spirometry was performed up to 36 h post-dose; safety and tolerability were assessed throughout the study. The primary endpoint was change from baseline in peak forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1). Additional endpoints included trough FEV1, normalized area under the FEV1 curve (FEV1 AUC) up to 24 h post-dose, and peak and trough forced vital capacity (FVC).
Abediterol produced dose-dependent improvements in peak FEV1 from baseline compared with placebo, from 0.274 (95% CI 0.221, 0.327) to 0.405 L (95% CI 0.353, 0.458) for abediterol 0.313 to 2.5 μg, respectively (p < 0.0001 all doses). Abediterol 0.625, 1.25, and 2.5 μg had similar magnitude of peak FEV1 effect to salbutamol. Dose-dependent changes from baseline in trough FEV1 versus placebo were 0.219 (95% CI 0.136, 0.302) to 0.400 L (95% CI 0.317, 0.483) for abediterol 0.313 to 2.5 μg, respectively (p < 0.0001). All abediterol doses achieved significant improvements versus placebo in FEV1 AUC 0–6, 0–12, and 0–24 h, and peak and trough FVC (p < 0.05). Less than 10% of patients experienced treatment-related adverse events for each dose of abediterol; most were mild to moderate in intensity and the most common were headache and nasopharyngitis. There were no clinically relevant changes in heart rate.
Abediterol 0.625–2.5 μg provided dose-dependent, clinically and statistically significant bronchodilation versus placebo in patients with asthma, with a peak effect similar to salbutamol and duration of action compatible with once-daily dosing. All doses of abediterol were well tolerated.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2466-14-176) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4320624  PMID: 25398689
LABA; Chronic respiratory disease; Asthma; Dose-finding; Bronchodilation
5.  The effect of the novel phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor MEM 1414 on the allergen induced responses in mild asthma 
BMC Pulmonary Medicine  2014;14(1):166.
Inhaled allergen challenge is a standard method to study airway responses to inflammatory provocation and evaluate the therapeutic potential of novel anti-inflammatory compounds in asthma. MEM 1414 is a novel oral PDE4 inhibitor with high affinity and selectivity creating the potential for an improved side effect profile vs non-selective PDE inhibitors. We evaluated the tolerability and effect of MEM 1414 on airway responses in mild asthmatics.
A randomised double blind placebo controlled cross over study in two centres, in which sixteen steroid naïve atopic asthmatics were challenged with inhaled allergen. Subjects were dosed with MEM 1414 (600 mg) or placebo, twice daily orally for 7 days. Allergen challenge was performed on day 6 (2 hours post-dose), and methacholine responsiveness was measured 24 hours post allergen (day 7). Biomarkers of drug effects using ex vivo LPS stimulation of whole blood production of interleukin (IL)-6 and leukotriene (LT)-B4 and fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) were measured on day 6 (0, 2 and 8 hours post-dose). Plasma pharmacokinetics were measured on days 1, 6 and 7. The primary endpoint was the effect on late asthmatic response to allergen.
Treatment with MEM 1414 abrogated the late phase response with a mean difference in FEV1 (LAR 3–10 hours) of 104 ml (25%) vs placebo (p < 0.005), with no effect on the early response. Biomarker responses were also attenuated with MEM 1414 treatment with reductions in LPS-stimulated whole blood assays for TNFα at 8 hours (p < 0.03) and LTB4 at 24 hours (p = 0.0808) with no change in the IL-6 response. The MEM 1414 treatment phase was associated with higher incidence of nausea (6/16 MEM 1414 vs 2/16 placebo) and vomiting (3/16 vs 0/16 placebo).
Oral MEM 1414, a novel PDE4 inhibitor, significantly reduces the late response following inhaled allergen challenge. MEM 1414 also inhibited whole blood assays of cytokine production from inflammatory cells. MEM 1414 was associated with a typical adverse event profile of PDE4 inhibitors, namely nausea and vomiting although these were mild side effects.
Trial registration number
Current controlled trials ISRCTN48047493.
PMCID: PMC4228152  PMID: 25351474
Phosphodiesterase (PDE4); Inhaled allergen challenge; Asthma; COPD; Biomarkers; TNFα; LTB4
6.  Altered Gene Expression in Blood and Sputum in COPD Frequent Exacerbators in the ECLIPSE Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107381.
Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who are defined as frequent exacerbators suffer with 2 or more exacerbations every year. The molecular mechanisms responsible for this phenotype are poorly understood. We investigated gene expression profile patterns associated with frequent exacerbations in sputum and blood cells in a well-characterised cohort. Samples from subjects from the ECLIPSE COPD cohort were used; sputum and blood samples from 138 subjects were used for microarray gene expression analysis, while blood samples from 438 subjects were used for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. Using microarray, 150 genes were differentially expressed in blood (>±1.5 fold change, p≤0.01) between frequent compared to non-exacerbators. In sputum cells, only 6 genes were differentially expressed. The differentially regulated genes in blood included downregulation of those involved in lymphocyte signalling and upregulation of pro-apoptotic signalling genes. Multivariate analysis of the microarray data followed by confirmatory PCR analysis identified 3 genes that predicted frequent exacerbations; B3GNT, LAF4 and ARHGEF10. The sensitivity and specificity of these 3 genes to predict the frequent exacerbator phenotype was 88% and 33% respectively. There are alterations in systemic immune function associated with frequent exacerbations; down-regulation of lymphocyte function and a shift towards pro-apoptosis mechanisms are apparent in patients with frequent exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC4179270  PMID: 25265030
7.  Increased levels of soluble interleukin-6 receptor and CCL3 in COPD sputum 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):103.
COPD patients have increased numbers of macrophages and neutrophils in the lungs. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) trans-signaling via its soluble receptor sIL-6R, governs the influx of innate immune cells to inflammatory foci through regulation of the chemokine CCL3. We hypothesized that there would be enhanced levels of IL-6, sIL-6R and CCL3 in COPD sputum.
59 COPD patients, 15 HNS and 15 S underwent sputum induction and processing with phosphate buffered saline to obtain supernatants for IL-6, sIL-6R and CCL3 analysis. Cytoslides were produced for differential cell counting and immunocytochemistry (COPD; n = 3) to determine cell type surface expression of the CCL3 receptors CCR5 and CCR1.
COPD patients expressed higher levels (p < 0.05) of sIL-6R and CCL3 compared to controls (sIL-6R medians pg/ml: COPD 166.4 vs S 101.1 vs HNS 96.4; CCL3 medians pg/ml: COPD 117.9 vs S 0 vs HNS 2.7). COPD sIL-6R levels were significantly correlated with sputum neutrophil (r = 0.5, p < 0.0001) and macrophage (r = 0.3, p = 0.01) counts. Immunocytochemical analysis revealed that CCR5 and CCR1 were exclusively expressed on airway macrophages.
Enhanced airway generation of sIL-6R may promote IL-6 trans-signaling in COPD. Associated upregulation of CCL3 may facilitate the recruitment of macrophages into the airways by ligation of CCR1 and CCR5.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12931-014-0103-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4156958  PMID: 25183374
COPD; Sputum; Two-step sputum processing; Interleukin-6; sIL-6R; CCL3
8.  Extrafine Beclomethasone/formoterol compared to Fluticasone/salmeterol Combination Therapy in COPD 
The study evaluated the efficacy of beclomethasone dipropionate/formoterol fumarate (BDP/FF) extrafine combination versus fluticasone propionate/salmeterol (FP/S) combination in COPD patients.
The trial was a 12-week multicentre, randomised, double-blind, double dummy study; 419 patients with moderate/severe COPD were randomised to BDP/FF 200/12 μg or FP/S 500/50 μg twice daily. The primary objective was to demonstrate the equivalence between treatments in terms of Transition Dyspnoea Index (TDI) score and the superiority of BDP/FF in terms of change from pre-dose in the first 30 minutes in forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1). Secondary endpoints included lung function, symptom scores, symptom-free days and use of rescue medication, St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire, six minute walking test and COPD exacerbations.
BDP/FF was equivalent to FP/S in terms of TDI score and superior in terms of FEV1 change from pre-dose (p < 0.001). There were no significant differences between treatments in secondary outcome measures, confirming overall comparability in terms of efficacy and tolerability. Moreover, a clinically relevant improvement (>4 units) in SGRQ was detected in the BDP/FF group only.
BDP/FF extrafine combination provides COPD patients with an equivalent improvement of dyspnoea and a faster bronchodilation in comparison to FP/S.
Trial registration NCT01245569
PMCID: PMC4008134  PMID: 24621109
9.  Corticosteroid effects on COPD alveolar macrophages: Dependency on cell culture methodology 
Journal of Immunological Methods  2014;405(100):144-153.
It is unclear whether cell culture methodology affects the corticosteroid sensitivity of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) alveolar macrophages. We compared the effect of a short and a long isolation procedure on corticosteroid inhibition of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulated cytokine release from COPD alveolar macrophages. We also investigated signalling pathways associated with macrophage activation during cell isolation. Macrophages cultured using a short isolation protocol released higher unstimulated levels of tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α and chemokine C–X–C motif ligand (CXCL) 8; these macrophages were less sensitive to corticosteroid inhibition of LPS stimulated TNF-α and CXCL8 release when compared to a long isolation procedure. This was associated with increased p38 mitogen activated kinase (MAPK) activation. The p38 MAPK inhibitor, BIRB-796, significantly reduced unstimulated cytokine release. A key finding of this study was that both cell culture methods showed no difference in the corticosteroid sensitivity between COPD and control macrophages. We conclude that the culture of alveolar macrophages using a short isolation procedure alters cytokine production through p38 MAPK activation; this is associated with a change in corticosteroid sensitivity.
PMCID: PMC4004046  PMID: 24530567
Alveolar macrophage; Cytokines; Inflammation; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Corticosteroids; p38 MAPK
10.  Inhibition of the early asthmatic response to inhaled allergen by the 5-lipoxygenase activating protein inhibitor GSK2190915: a dose–response study 
GSK2190915, a 5-lipoxygenase activating protein inhibitor, inhibits the production of cysteinyl leukotrienes and leukotriene B4 and 5-oxo-6,8,11,14-eicosatetraenoic acid. We have previously reported that GSK2190915 100 mg daily inhibits early and late asthmatic responses to inhaled allergen; the effects of lower doses have not been reported. This study assessed the dose–response effects of GSK2190915 10 mg and 50 mg on the early asthmatic response (EAR) to inhaled allergen.
Nineteen subjects with mild asthma and an EAR were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, three-way crossover study of GSK2190915 10 mg, 50 mg, and placebo orally once-daily for 3 days. Allergen challenge was performed 2 hours after the third dose.
Compared with placebo, GSK2190915 10 mg and 50 mg caused significant, dose-dependent attenuation of the minimum forced expiratory volume at 1 second (FEV1) absolute change from baseline; mean treatment differences were 0.21 L (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.04 L, 0.38 L) and 0.41 L (95% CI 0.24 L, 0.58 L), respectively. GSK2190915 50 mg was more effective than 10 mg; mean difference between treatments was 0.20 L, (95% CI 0.03 L, 0.36 L). Compared with placebo, GSK2190915 50 mg, but not 10 mg, significantly inhibited the weighted mean FEV1 absolute change from baseline.
GSK2190915 50 mg attenuated the EAR similarly to GSK2190915 100 mg in our previous study, suggesting 50 mg is at the top of the dose–response curve. GSK2190915 10 mg is a suboptimal dose. The EAR can be used to assess the therapeutic dose of a new treatment for asthma.
PMCID: PMC3862733  PMID: 24357936
GSK2190915; FLAP inhibitor; early asthmatic response
11.  The role of the liver X receptor in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):106.
There is a need for novel anti-inflammatory therapies to treat COPD. The liver X receptor (LXR) is a nuclear hormone receptor with anti-inflammatory properties.
We investigated LXR gene and protein expression levels in alveolar macrophages and whole lung tissue from COPD patients and controls, the effect of LXR activation on the suppression of inflammatory mediators from LPS stimulated COPD alveolar macrophages, and the effect of LXR activation on the induction of genes associated with alternative macrophage polarisation.
The levels of LXR mRNA were significantly increased in whole lung tissue extracts in COPD patients and smokers compared to non-smokers. The expression of LXR protein was significantly increased in small airway epithelium and alveolar epithelium in COPD patients compared to controls. No differences in LXR mRNA and protein levels were observed in alveolar macrophages between patient groups. The LXR agonist GW3965 significantly induced the expression of the LXR dependent genes ABCA1 and ABCG1 in alveolar macrophage cultures. In LPS stimulated alveolar macrophages, GW3965 suppressed the production of CXCL10 and CCL5, whilst stimulating IL-10 production.
GW3965 did not significantly suppress the production of TNFα, IL-1β, or CXCL8. Our major finding is that LXR activation has anti-inflammatory effects on CXC10, CCL5 and IL-10 production from alveolar macrophages.
PMCID: PMC3852990  PMID: 24118845
COPD; Liver X receptor; Alveolar macrophage; Inflammatory cytokines
12.  Correction: Loss of Glucocorticoid Receptor Expression by DNA Methylation Prevents Glucocorticoid Induced Apoptosis in Human Small Cell Lung Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):10.1371/annotation/4aad3313-abac-404f-85b0-3b95aec89be4.
PMCID: PMC3762989
13.  Down Regulation of T Cell Receptor Expression in COPD Pulmonary CD8 Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71629.
CD8 cells may contribute towards an autoimmune process in COPD. Down regulation of T cell receptor (TCR) signalling molecules occurs in autoimmune diseases with consequent T cell dysfunction. We hypothesise that TCR signalling is abnormal in COPD pulmonary CD8 cells. Micro-array gene expression analysis of blood and pulmonary COPD CD8 samples was performed and compared to pulmonary CD8 cells from smoker controls (S). We focused on the TCR signalling pathway, with validation of key findings using polymerase chain reaction and immunofluorescence. TCR signalling molecules in COPD pulmonary CD8 cells were down regulated compared to blood CD8 cells (CD247: fold change (FC) −2.43, Q = 0.001; LCK: FC −2.25, Q = 0.01). Micro-array analysis revealed no significant differences between COPD and S pulmonary CD8 cells. However, PCR revealed significantly lower gene expression levels of CD247 (FC −1.79, p = 0.04) and LCK (FC −1.77, p = 0.01) in COPD compared to S pulmonary CD8 cells. CD247 down regulation in COPD CD8 cells was confirmed by immunofluorescent staining of bronchoalveolar lavage cells: Significantly fewer COPD CD8 cells co-expressed CD247 compared to healthy non-smoker CD8 cells (mean 88.9 vs 75.2%, p<0.05) There is down regulation of TCR signalling molecules in COPD pulmonary CD8 cells. This may cause T cell dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3747211  PMID: 23977094
14.  Evaluation of Glucocorticoid Receptor Function in COPD Lung Macrophages Using Beclomethasone-17-Monopropionate 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64257.
Previous studies of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) function in COPD lung macrophages have used dexamethasone to evaluate inhibition of cytokine production. We have now used the clinically relevant corticosteroid beclomethasone-17-monopropionate (17-BMP) to assess GR function in COPD lung macrophages, and investigated the transactivation of glucocorticoid sensitive genes and GR phosphorylation in addition to cytokine production. Lung macrophages were purified from surgically acquired lung tissue, from patients with COPD, smokers, and non-smokers. The transactivation of glucocorticoid sensitive genes (FKBP51 and GILZ) by 17-BMP were analysed by polymerase chain reaction. 17-BMP suppression of LPS-induced TNFα, IL-6 and CXCL8 was measured by ELISA and GR phosphorylation was measured by immunohistochemistry and Western blot. 17-BMP reduced cytokine release in a concentration dependent manner, with >70% inhibition of all cytokines, and no difference between COPD patients and controls. Similarly, the transactivation of FKBP51 and GILZ, and GR phosphorylation was similar between COPD patients and controls. In this context, GR function in COPD lung macrophages is unaltered. 17-BMP effectively suppresses cytokine production in COPD lung macrophages.
PMCID: PMC3660317  PMID: 23704983
15.  Diesel Exhaust Particle Exposure In Vitro Alters Monocyte Differentiation and Function 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51107.
Air pollution by diesel exhaust particles is associated with elevated mortality and increased hospital admissions in individuals with respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. During active inflammation monocytes are recruited to the airways and can replace resident alveolar macrophages. We therefore investigated whether chronic fourteen day exposure to low concentrations of diesel exhaust particles can alter the phenotype and function of monocytes from healthy individuals and those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Monocytes were purified from the blood of healthy individuals and people with a diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Monocyte-derived macrophages were generated in the presence or absence of diesel exhaust particles and their phenotypes studied through investigation of their lifespan, cytokine generation in response to Toll like receptor agonists and heat killed bacteria, and expression of surface markers. Chronic fourteen day exposure of monocyte-derived macrophages to concentrations of diesel exhaust particles >10 µg/ml caused mitochondrial and lysosomal dysfunction, and a gradual loss of cells over time both in healthy and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease individuals. Chronic exposure to lower concentrations of diesel exhaust particles impaired CXCL8 cytokine responses to lipopolysaccharide and heat killed E. coli, and this phenotype was associated with a reduction in CD14 and CD11b expression. Chronic diesel exhaust particle exposure may therefore alter both numbers and function of lung macrophages differentiating from locally recruited monocytes in the lungs of healthy people and patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
PMCID: PMC3517601  PMID: 23236439
16.  Exhaled volatile organic compounds for phenotyping chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a cross-sectional study 
Respiratory Research  2012;13(1):72.
Non-invasive phenotyping of chronic respiratory diseases would be highly beneficial in the personalised medicine of the future. Volatile organic compounds can be measured in the exhaled breath and may be produced or altered by disease processes. We investigated whether distinct patterns of these compounds were present in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and clinically relevant disease phenotypes.
Breath samples from 39 COPD subjects and 32 healthy controls were collected and analysed using gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Subjects with COPD also underwent sputum induction. Discriminatory compounds were identified by univariate logistic regression followed by multivariate analysis: 1. principal component analysis; 2. multivariate logistic regression; 3. receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis.
Comparing COPD versus healthy controls, principal component analysis clustered the 20 best-discriminating compounds into four components explaining 71% of the variance. Multivariate logistic regression constructed an optimised model using two components with an accuracy of 69%. The model had 85% sensitivity, 50% specificity and ROC area under the curve of 0.74. Analysis of COPD subgroups showed the method could classify COPD subjects with far greater accuracy. Models were constructed which classified subjects with ≥2% sputum eosinophilia with ROC area under the curve of 0.94 and those having frequent exacerbations 0.95. Potential biomarkers correlated to clinical variables were identified in each subgroup.
The exhaled breath volatile organic compound profile discriminated between COPD and healthy controls and identified clinically relevant COPD subgroups. If these findings are validated in prospective cohorts, they may have diagnostic and management value in this disease.
PMCID: PMC3514190  PMID: 22916684
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Biomarkers; Breath tests; Metabolomics
17.  Once-daily NVA237 improves exercise tolerance from the first dose in patients with COPD: the GLOW3 trial 
Exercise limitation, dynamic hyperinflation, and exertional dyspnea are key features of symptomatic chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We assessed the effects of glycopyrronium bromide (NVA237), a once-daily, long-acting muscarinic antagonist, on exercise tolerance in patients with moderate to severe COPD.
Patients were randomized to a cross-over design of once-daily NVA237 50 μg or placebo for 3 weeks, with a 14-day washout. Exercise endurance, inspiratory capacity (IC) during exercise, IC and expiratory volumes from spirometry, plethysmographic lung volumes, leg discomfort and dyspnea under exercise (Borg scales), and transition dyspnea index were measured on Days 1 and 21 of treatment. The primary endpoint was endurance time during a submaximal constant-load cycle ergometry test on Day 21.
A total of 108 patients were randomized to different treatment groups (mean age, 60.5 years; mean post-bronchodilator, forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1] 57.1% predicted). Ninety-five patients completed the study. On Day 21, a 21% difference in endurance time was observed between patients treated with NVA237 and those treated with placebo (P < 0.001); the effect was also significant from Day 1, with an increase of 10%. Dynamic IC at exercise isotime and trough FEV1 showed significant and clinically relevant improvements from Day 1 of treatment that were maintained throughout the study. This was accompanied by inverse decreases in residual volume and functional residual capacity. NVA237 was superior to placebo (P < 0.05) in decreasing leg discomfort (Borg CR10 scale) on Day 21 and exertional dyspnea on Days 1 and 21 (transition dyspnea index and Borg CR10 scale at isotime). The safety profile of NVA237 was similar to that of the placebo.
NVA237 50 μg once daily produced immediate and significant improvement in exercise tolerance from Day 1. This was accompanied by sustained reductions in lung hyperinflation (indicated by sustained and significant improvements in IC at isotime), and meaningful improvements in trough FEV1 and dyspnea. Improvements in exercise endurance increased over time, suggesting that mechanisms beyond improved lung function may be involved in enhanced exercise tolerance. ( Identifier: NCT01154127).
PMCID: PMC3430121  PMID: 22973092
COPD; dyspnea; FEV1; exercise tolerance; LAMA; NVA237
18.  T lymphocyte insensitivity to corticosteroids in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory Research  2012;13(1):20.
There are increased numbers of activated lymphocytes in the lungs of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. The clinical benefits of corticosteroids in COPD patients are limited. Our hypothesis is that lymphocytes play a role in this corticosteroid insensitivity.
To investigate the effects of the corticosteroid dexamethasone on lung lymphocyte cytokine production from patients with COPD compared to controls.
Cultured airway lymphocytes obtained by bronchoscopy from healthy non-smokers (HNS), smokers (S) and COPD patients were stimulated with phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) & phorbol myristate acetate (PMA), +/- dexamethasone. Supernatants were assayed for interleukin (IL)-2 and interferon (IFN)γ. Immunofluoresence was used to analyse changes in CD8 glucocorticoid receptor (GRα and GRβ) expression.
The inhibition of PHA/PMA stimulated IFNγ production by dexamethasone was reduced in COPD patients compared to HNS (p < 0.05 at concentrations from 0.1-1 μM). There was also a significant reduction (p < 0.05) in the mean inhibitory effect at 1 μM in COPD patients (54.1%) compared to smokers (72.1%), and in smokers compared to HNS (85.5%). There was a numerically reduced effect of dexamethasone on IL-2 production that did not reach statistical significance. There was no difference in GRα and GRβ expression in follicular CD8 cells between COPD patients (50.9% and 30.4% respectively) and smokers (52.9% and 29.7% respectively).
IFNγ production from COPD airway lymphocytes is corticosteroid insensitive. This phenomenon may be important in the poor clinical response often observed with corticosteroids.
PMCID: PMC3320534  PMID: 22417244
COPD; Lymphocytes; Corticosteriods
19.  Loss of Glucocorticoid Receptor Expression by DNA Methylation Prevents Glucocorticoid Induced Apoptosis in Human Small Cell Lung Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e24839.
Human small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is highly aggressive, and quickly develops resistance to therapy. SCLC cells are typically insensitive to glucocorticoids due to impaired glucocorticoid receptor (GR) expression. This is important as we have previously shown that expression of a GR transgene induces cell death in-vitro, and inhibits tumor growth in-vivo. However, the underlying mechanism for loss of GR expression is unknown. The SCLC cell line, DMS79, has low GR expression, compared to non-SCLC cell lines and normal bronchial epithelial cells. Retroviral GR expression in DMS79 cells caused activation of the apoptotic pathway as evidenced by marked induction of caspase-3 activity. Methylation analysis of the GR promoter revealed some methylation in the 1D, and 1E promoters of the GR gene, however the ubiquitous constitutively active 1C promoter was heavily methylated. In the 1C promoter there was a highly significant increase in DNA methylation in a panel of 14 human SCLC cell lines compared to a mixed panel of GR expressing, and non-expressing cell lines, and to peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Furthermore, within the panel of SCLC cell lines there was a significant negative correlation seen between methylation of the 1C promoter, and GR protein expression. Reversal of GR gene methylation with DNA methyltransferase inhibition caused increased GR mRNA and protein expression in SCLC but not non-SCLC cells. This resulted in increased Gc sensitivity, decreased Bcl-2 expression and increased caspase-3 activity in SCLC cells. These data suggest that DNA methylation decreases GR gene expression in human SCLC cells, in a similar manner to that for conventional tumor suppressor genes.
PMCID: PMC3184945  PMID: 21984896
20.  Safety of indacaterol in the treatment of patients with COPD 
Pooled data were analyzed to evaluate the safety and tolerability of indacaterol, a once-daily inhaled long-acting β2-agonist for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Patients and methods
Data were pooled from clinical studies of 3–12 months’ duration in patients with moderate-to-severe COPD receiving double-blind indacaterol 75 μg (n = 449), 150 μg (n = 2611), 300 μg (n = 1157), or 600 μg once daily (n = 547); formoterol 12 μg twice daily (n = 556); salmeterol 50 μg twice daily (n = 895); placebo (n = 2012); or tiotropium 18 μg once daily, given open label or blinded (n = 1214). Outcomes were adverse events, serious adverse events and deaths, plasma potassium, blood glucose, and QTc interval and vital signs.
The commonest adverse events with indacaterol were COPD worsening, nasopharyngitis, and headache; most cases were mild or moderate and incidence was generally similar to placebo and other active treatments. The risk of acute respiratory serious adverse events (leading to hospitalization, intubation, or death) was not significantly increased with any of the active treatments compared with placebo. COPD exacerbation rates (analyzed in the intent-to-treat population) were significantly reduced with all active treatments versus placebo. Hazard ratios versus placebo for major cardiovascular adverse events were <1 for all indacaterol doses. Notable values for vital signs and measures of systemic β2-adrenoceptor activity were rare with indacaterol. The number of deaths adjusted per patient-year was lower with indacaterol (all doses combined) than with placebo (relative risk 0.21 [95% confidence interval 0.07–0.660], P = 0.008).
Indacaterol has a good profile of safety and tolerability that is appropriate for the maintenance treatment of patients with COPD.
PMCID: PMC3186746  PMID: 22003293
indacaterol; safety; tolerability; formoterol; salmeterol; tiotropium
21.  Genetics of Sputum Gene Expression in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24395.
Previous expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) studies have performed genetic association studies for gene expression, but most of these studies examined lymphoblastoid cell lines from non-diseased individuals. We examined the genetics of gene expression in a relevant disease tissue from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients to identify functional effects of known susceptibility genes and to find novel disease genes. By combining gene expression profiling on induced sputum samples from 131 COPD cases from the ECLIPSE Study with genomewide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data, we found 4315 significant cis-eQTL SNP-probe set associations (3309 unique SNPs). The 3309 SNPs were tested for association with COPD in a genomewide association study (GWAS) dataset, which included 2940 COPD cases and 1380 controls. Adjusting for 3309 tests (p<1.5e-5), the two SNPs which were significantly associated with COPD were located in two separate genes in a known COPD locus on chromosome 15: CHRNA5 and IREB2. Detailed analysis of chromosome 15 demonstrated additional eQTLs for IREB2 mapping to that gene. eQTL SNPs for CHRNA5 mapped to multiple linkage disequilibrium (LD) bins. The eQTLs for IREB2 and CHRNA5 were not in LD. Seventy-four additional eQTL SNPs were associated with COPD at p<0.01. These were genotyped in two COPD populations, finding replicated associations with a SNP in PSORS1C1, in the HLA-C region on chromosome 6. Integrative analysis of GWAS and gene expression data from relevant tissue from diseased subjects has located potential functional variants in two known COPD genes and has identified a novel COPD susceptibility locus.
PMCID: PMC3174957  PMID: 21949713
22.  Identification of Lipocalin and Apolipoprotein A1 as Biomarkers of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Rationale: Much effort is being made to discover noninvasive biomarkers of chronic airway disease that might enable better management, predict prognosis, and provide new therapeutic targets.
Objectives: To undertake a comprehensive, unbiased proteomic analysis of induced sputum and identify novel noninvasive biomarkers for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Methods: Induced sputum was obtained from patients with COPD with a spectrum of disease severity and from control subjects. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometric identification of differentially expressed proteins were first applied to induced sputum from patients with GOLD stage 2 COPD and healthy smoker control subjects. Initial results thus obtained were validated by a combination of immunoassays (Western blotting and ELISA) applied to a large subject cohort. The biomarkers were localized to bronchial mucosa by immunohistochemistry.
Measurements and Main Results: Of 1,325 individual protein spots identified, 37 were quantitatively and 3 qualitatively different between the two groups (P < 0.05%). Forty protein spots were subjected to tandem mass spectrometry, which identified 15 separate protein species. Seven of these were further quantified in induced sputum from 97 individuals. Using this sequential approach, two of these potential biomarkers (apolipoprotein A1 and lipocalin-1) were found to be significantly reduced in patients with COPD when compared with healthy smokers. Their levels correlated with FEV1/FVC, indicating their relationship to disease severity.
Conclusions: A potential role for apolipoprotein A1 and lipocalin-1 in innate defense has been postulated previously; our discovery of their reduction in COPD indicates a deficient innate defense system in airway disease that could explain increased susceptibility to infectious exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC2874448  PMID: 20110559
two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis; induced sputum; proteome; biomarkers; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
23.  Biomarkers of systemic inflammation and depression and fatigue in moderate clinically stable COPD 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):3.
COPD is an inflammatory disease with major co-morbidities. It has recently been suggested that depression may be the result of systemic inflammation. We aimed to explore the association between systemic inflammation and symptoms of depression and fatigue in patients with mainly moderate and clinically stable COPD using a range of inflammatory biomarkers, 2 depression and 2 fatigue scales.
We assessed 120 patients with moderate COPD (FEV1% 52, men 62%, age 66). Depression was assessed using the BASDEC and CES-D scales. Fatigue was assessed using the Manchester COPD-fatigue scale (MCFS) and the Borg scale before and after 6MWT. We measured systemic TNF-α, CRP, TNF-α-R1, TNF-α-R2 and IL-6.
A multivariate linear model of all biomarkers showed that TNF-α only had a positive correlation with BASDEC depression score (p = 0.007). TNF-α remained positively correlated with depression (p = 0.024) after further adjusting for TNF-α-R1, TNF-α-R2, 6MWD, FEV1%, and pack-years. Even after adding the MCFS score, body mass and body composition to the model TNF-α was still associated with the BASDEC score (p = 0.044). Furthermore, patients with higher TNF-α level (> 3 pg/ml, n = 7) had higher mean CES-D depression score than the rest of the sample (p = 0.03). Borg fatigue score at baseline were weakly correlated with TNF-α and CRP, and with TNF-α only after 6MWT. Patients with higher TNF-α had more fatigue after 6MWD (p = 0.054).
This study indicates a possible association between TNF-α and two frequent and major co-morbidities in COPD; i.e., depression and fatigue.
PMCID: PMC3024938  PMID: 21208443
24.  Efficacy and safety of tiotropium Respimat® SMI in COPD in two 1-year randomized studies 
Two 1-year studies evaluated the long-term efficacy and safety of tiotropium 5 or 10 μg versus placebo, inhaled via the Respimat® Soft Mist™ Inhaler (SMI). The two studies were combined and had 4 co-primary endpoints (trough FEV1 response, Mahler Transition Dyspnea Index [TDI] and St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire scores all at week 48, and COPD exacerbations per patient-year). A total of 1990 patients with COPD participated (mean FEV1: 1.09 L). The mean trough FEV1 response of tiotropium 5 or 10 μg relative to placebo was 127 or 150 mL, respectively (both P < 0.0001). The COPD exacerbation rate was significantly lower with tiotropium 5 μg (RR = 0.78; P = 0.002) and tiotropium 10 μg (RR = 0.73; P = 0.0008); the health-related quality of life and Mahler TDI co-primary endpoints were significantly improved with both doses (both P < 0.0001). Adverse events were generally balanced except anticholinergic class effects, which were more frequent with active treatment. Fatal events occurred in 2.4% (5 μg), 2.7% (10 μg), and 1.6% (placebo) of patients; these differences were not significant. Tiotropium Respimat® SMI 5 μg demonstrated sustained improvements in patients with COPD relative to placebo and similar to the 10 μg dose but with a lower frequency of anticholinergic adverse events.
PMCID: PMC2921687  PMID: 20714373
COPD; exacerbations; FEV1; quality of life; Respimat®; tiotropium
25.  Sputum neutrophils as a biomarker in COPD: findings from the ECLIPSE study 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):77.
The percentage of neutrophils in sputum are increased in COPD patients, and may therefore be a biomarker of airway inflammation. We studied the relationships between sputum neutrophils and FEV1, health status, exacerbation rates, systemic inflammation and emphysema, and long term variability at 1 year.
Sputum samples were obtained from 488 COPD patients within the ECLIPSE cohort. 359 samples were obtained at baseline, and 297 after 1 year. 168 subjects provided samples at both visits. Serum interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-8, surfactant protein D and C-reactive protein levels were measured by immunoassays. Low-dose CT scans evaluated emphysema.
Sputum neutrophil % increased with GOLD stage. There was a weak association between % sputum neutrophils and FEV1 % predicted (univariate r2 = 0.025 and 0.094 at baseline and year 1 respectively, p < 0.05 after multivariate regression). Similar weak but significant associations were observed between neutrophil % and health status measured using the St Georges Respiratory Questionairre. There were no associations between neutrophils and exacerbation rates or emphysema. Associations between sputum neutrophils and systemic biomarkers were non-significant or similarly weak. The mean change over 1 year in neutrophil % was an increase of 3.5%.
Sputum neutrophil measurements in COPD are associated weakly with FEV1 % predicted and health status. Sputum neutrophil measurements were dissociated from exacerbation rates, emphysema and systemic inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2904285  PMID: 20550701

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