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1.  Reproducibility of exhaled nitric oxide measurements in overweight and obese adults 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7(1):775.
Exhaled nitric oxide is a noninvasive measure of airway inflammation that can be detected by a handheld device. Obesity may influence the reproducibility of exhaled nitric oxide measurements, by - for instance – decreased expiratory reserve volume.
We analyzed triple exhaled nitric oxide measurements from 553 participants (aged 45 to 65 years with a body mass index ≥27 kg/m2) of the Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity Study. The interclass correlation coefficient (single measurement reliability) was 0.965 (95% CI: 0.960, 0.970).
We conclude that for assessment of exhaled nitric oxide in large cohorts of overweight and obese adults a single measurement suffices.
PMCID: PMC4237750  PMID: 25366981
Reproducibility; Exhaled nitric oxide; Obesity
2.  Implementing lessons learned from previous bronchial biopsy trials in a new randomized controlled COPD biopsy trial with roflumilast 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory disease mediated by an array of inflammatory cells and mediators, but above all, CD8+ T-lymphocytes, macrophages and neutrophils are important players in disease pathogenesis. Roflumilast, a first-in-class, potent and selective phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) inhibitor, reduces the rate of exacerbations in patients with a high risk of future exacerbations and has been shown to reduce inflammatory cells and mediators in induced sputum, a surrogate of airway inflammation. However, these anti-inflammatory effects are yet to be confirmed in another robust study directly assessing inflammatory markers in bronchial sub-mucosa.
An international, 16-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study investigating the effects of roflumilast 500 μg once-daily versus placebo on inflammatory parameters in bronchial biopsy tissue specimens, sputum and blood serum. One hundred and fifty patients with COPD and chronic bronchitis for at least 12 months will be recruited into the study and randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive either roflumilast or placebo. The primary endpoint will be the number of CD8+ cells (cell counts per mm2) in bronchial biopsy tissue specimens (sub-mucosa) and the key secondary endpoint will be the number of CD68+ cells (cell counts per mm2), assessed by indirect immunohistochemistry.
It is hypothesized that treatment with roflumilast reduces the characteristic inflammation found in the airways of patients with moderate-to-severe COPD, compared with placebo. The design of the present study has built on the work of previous bronchial biopsy studies available in the literature. It is hoped that it will reveal the cellular mechanisms underlying the anti-inflammatory effects of roflumilast and identify potentially important biomarkers and other surrogate endpoints in patients with COPD. The design and rationale for this trial are described herein.
Trial registration
Clinical trial identifier: NCT01509677 (
PMCID: PMC3927659  PMID: 24484726
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Roflumilast; Inflammation; Exacerbation; Bronchoscopy; Bronchial biopsy; Protocol; Sputum; Histology
4.  Asthma in the elderly: what we know and what we have yet to know 
In the past, asthma was considered mainly as a childhood disease. However, asthma is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly nowadays. In addition, the burden of asthma is more significant in the elderly than in their younger counterparts, particularly with regard to mortality, hospitalization, medical costs or health-related quality of life. Nevertheless, asthma in the elderly is still been underdiagnosed and undertreated. Therefore, it is an imperative task to recognize our current challenges and to set future directions. This project aims to review the current literature and identify unmet needs in the fields of research and practice for asthma in the elderly. This will enable us to find new research directions, propose new therapeutic strategies, and ultimately improve outcomes for elderly people with asthma. There are data to suggest that asthma in older adults is phenotypically different from young patients, with potential impact on the diagnosis, assessment and management in this population. The diagnosis of AIE in older populations relies on the same clinical findings and diagnostic tests used in younger populations, but the interpretation of the clinical data is more difficult. The challenge today is to encourage new research in AIE but to use the existing knowledge we have to make the diagnosis of AIE, educate the patient, develop a therapeutic approach to control the disease, and ultimately provide a better quality of life to our elderly patients.
PMCID: PMC4137434  PMID: 25152804
5.  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
6.  Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and exacerbations: Patient insights from the global Hidden Depths of COPD survey 
Although chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major global health burden there is a lack of patient awareness of disease severity, particularly in relation to exacerbations.
We conducted a global patient survey using an innovative, internet-based methodology to gain insight into patient perceptions of COPD and exacerbations in a real-world sample typical of today’s working-age COPD population.
Two thousand patients with COPD (53%), chronic bronchitis (52%) and/or emphysema (22%) from 14 countries completed an online questionnaire developed by the authors. The Medical Research Council (MRC) breathlessness scale was used to delineate symptom severity. Over three quarters of patients (77%) had experienced an exacerbation, with 27% of MRC 1 and 2 patients and 52% of MRC 3, 4 and 5 patients requiring hospitalization as a result of an exacerbation. While a majority of MRC 1 and 2 patients (51%) reported being back to normal within a few days of an exacerbation, 23% of MRC 3, 4 and 5 patients took several weeks to return to normal and 6% never fully recovered. A high proportion of patients (39%) took a ‘wait and see’ approach to exacerbations.
Despite the high prevalence of exacerbations and their negative impact on quality of life, 73% of MRC 1 and 2 patients and 64% of MRC 3, 4 and 5 patients felt that they had control of their COPD. However, 77% of all patients were worried about their long-term health, and 38% of MRC 1 and 2 patients and 59% of MRC 3, 4 and 5 patients feared premature death due to COPD.
To reduce the adverse effects of COPD on patients’ quality of life and address their fears for the future, we need better patient education and improved prevention and treatment of exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC3765923  PMID: 23971625
COPD; Exacerbation; Patient-reported; Survey
7.  Anti-inflammatory effects of budesonide in human lung fibroblast are independent of histone deacetylase 2 
Objective and design
Reduced expression of histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2) in alveolar macrophages and epithelial cells may account for reduced response of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients to glucocorticoids. HDAC2 expression and its role in mediating glucocorticoid effects on fibroblast functions, however, has not been fully studied. This study was designed to investigate whether HDAC2 mediates glucocorticoid effects on release of inflammatory cytokines and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) from human lung fibroblasts.
Human lung fibroblasts (HFL-1 cells) were stimulated with interleukin (IL)-1 β plus tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α in the presence or absence of the glucocorticoid budesonide. Cytokines (IL-6 and IL-8) were quantified by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and MMPs (MMP-1 and MMP-3) by immunoblotting in culture medium. The role of HDAC2 was investigated using a pharmacologic inhibitor as well as a small interfering ribonucleic acid (siRNA) targeting HDAC2.
We have demonstrated that budesonide concentration-dependently (10−10–10−7 M) inhibited IL-6, IL-8, MMP-1, and MMP-3 release by HFL-1 cells in response to IL-1β plus TNF-α. While an HDAC inhibitor significantly blocked the inhibitory effect of budesonide on human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs) and monocytes (THP-1 cells), it did not block the inhibitory effect of budesonide on release of cytokines and MMPs from HFL-1 cells. Similarly, an HDAC2-siRNA blocked budesonide inhibition of cytokine release in HBECs, but it did not block the inhibitory effect of budesonide on HFL-1 cytokine and MMP release. Furthermore, budesonide significantly blocked release of cytokines and MMPs to a similar degree in normal and COPD lung fibroblasts as well as in HFL-1 cells exposed or not exposed to cigarette smoke extract.
These findings suggest that, in contrast to airway epithelial cells and monocytes/macrophages, HDAC2 is not required for budesonide to inhibit MMP and cytokine release by lung fibroblasts and this inhibitory pathway appears to be intact in cultured fibroblasts from COPD patients. These results also suggest that budesonide has the potential to modulate fibroblast-mediated tissue remodeling following airway inflammation in COPD, which is mediated via an HDAC2 independent pathway.
PMCID: PMC3780291  PMID: 24062615
budesonide; fibroblasts; HDAC2
8.  The effect of budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy on the risk of severe asthma exacerbations following episodes of high reliever use: an exploratory analysis of two randomised, controlled studies with comparisons to standard therapy 
Respiratory Research  2012;13(1):59.
Divergent strategies have emerged for the management of severe asthma. One strategy utilises high and fixed doses of maintenance treatment, usually inhaled corticosteroid/long-acting β2-agonist (ICS/LABA), supplemented by a short-acting β2-agonist (SABA) as needed. Alternatively, budesonide/formoterol is used as both maintenance and reliever therapy. The latter is superior to fixed-dose treatment in reducing severe exacerbations while achieving similar or better asthma control in other regards. Exacerbations may be reduced by the use of budesonide/formoterol as reliever medication during periods of unstable asthma. We examined the risk of a severe exacerbation in the period after a single day with high reliever use.
Episodes of high reliever use were quantified and exacerbations occurring post-index day with these episodes were examined post hoc in two double-blind studies comparing the efficacy and safety of budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy (Symbicort SMART™, Turbuhaler®) 160/4.5 μg twice daily plus as needed with similar or higher maintenance doses of ICS/LABA plus SABA or formoterol.
Budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy significantly reduced the risk of episodes of high reliever use (>6 inhalations/day) vs. all alternative ICS/LABA regimens. With conventional fixed-dose treatment the need for exacerbation treatment within 21 days ranged from 6.0–10.1% of days post-index for all regimens compared with 2.5–3.4% of days with budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy.
Budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy reduces the incidence of high reliever episodes and the exacerbation burden immediately following these episodes vs. alternative ICS/LABA plus SABA regimens at up to double the maintenance dose of ICS.
Trial registration
These studies do not have registration numbers as they were conducted before clinical trial registration was required
PMCID: PMC3561645  PMID: 22816878
Asthma; Asthma in primary care
9.  Does roflumilast decrease exacerbations in severe COPD patients not controlled by inhaled combination therapy? the REACT study protocol 
Many patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) continue to suffer exacerbations, even when treated with maximum recommended therapy (eg, inhaled combinations of long-acting β2-agonist and high dose inhaled corticosteroids, with or without a long-acting anticholinergic [long-acting muscarinic antagonist]). Roflumilast is approved to treat severe COPD in patients with chronic bronchitis – and a history of frequent exacerbations – as an add-on to bronchodilators.
The REACT (Roflumilast in the Prevention of COPD Exacerbations While Taking Appropriate Combination Treatment) study (identification number RO-2455-404-RD, clinicaltrials. gov identifier NCT01329029) will investigate whether roflumilast further reduces exacerbations when added to inhaled combination therapy in patients still suffering from frequent exacerbations.
Patients and methods
REACT is a 1-year randomized, double-blind, multicenter, phase III/IV study of roflumilast 500 μg once daily or placebo on top of a fixed long-acting β2-agonist/inhaled corticosteroid combination. A concomitant long-acting muscarinic antagonist will be allowed at stable doses. The primary outcome is the rate of moderate or severe COPD exacerbations. Using a Poisson regression model with a two-sided significance level of 5%, a sample size of 967 patients per treatment group is needed for 90% power. COPD patients with severe to very severe airflow limitation, symptoms of chronic bronchitis, and at least two exacerbations in the previous year will be recruited.
It is hypothesized that because roflumilast (a phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor) has a different mode of action to bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids, it may provide additional benefits when added to these treatments in frequent exacerbators. REACT will be important to determine the role of roflumilast in COPD management. Here, the design and rationale for this important study is described.
PMCID: PMC3393336  PMID: 22791991
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; roflumilast; protocol; LABA; ICS; exacerbation
10.  Cost-Effectiveness of Internet-Based Self-Management Compared with Usual Care in Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27108.
Effectiveness of Internet-based self-management in patients with asthma has been shown, but its cost-effectiveness is unknown. We conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis of Internet-based asthma self-management compared with usual care.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Cost-effectiveness analysis alongside a randomized controlled trial, with 12 months follow-up. Patients were aged 18 to 50 year and had physician diagnosed asthma. The Internet-based self-management program involved weekly on-line monitoring of asthma control with self-treatment advice, remote Web communications, and Internet-based information. We determined quality adjusted life years (QALYs) as measured by the EuroQol-5D and costs for health care use and absenteeism. We performed a detailed cost price analysis for the primary intervention. QALYs did not statistically significantly differ between the Internet group and usual care: difference 0.024 (95% CI, −0.016 to 0.065). Costs of the Internet-based intervention were $254 (95% CI, $243 to $265) during the period of 1 year. From a societal perspective, the cost difference was $641 (95% CI, $−1957 to $3240). From a health care perspective, the cost difference was $37 (95% CI, $−874 to $950). At a willingness-to-pay of $50000 per QALY, the probability that Internet-based self-management was cost-effective compared to usual care was 62% and 82% from a societal and health care perspective, respectively.
Internet-based self-management of asthma can be as effective as current asthma care and costs are similar.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN79864465
PMCID: PMC3214043  PMID: 22096523
11.  Systems medicine and integrated care to combat chronic noncommunicable diseases 
Genome Medicine  2011;3(7):43.
We propose an innovative, integrated, cost-effective health system to combat major non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cardiovascular, chronic respiratory, metabolic, rheumatologic and neurologic disorders and cancers, which together are the predominant health problem of the 21st century. This proposed holistic strategy involves comprehensive patient-centered integrated care and multi-scale, multi-modal and multi-level systems approaches to tackle NCDs as a common group of diseases. Rather than studying each disease individually, it will take into account their intertwined gene-environment, socio-economic interactions and co-morbidities that lead to individual-specific complex phenotypes. It will implement a road map for predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory (P4) medicine based on a robust and extensive knowledge management infrastructure that contains individual patient information. It will be supported by strategic partnerships involving all stakeholders, including general practitioners associated with patient-centered care. This systems medicine strategy, which will take a holistic approach to disease, is designed to allow the results to be used globally, taking into account the needs and specificities of local economies and health systems.
PMCID: PMC3221551  PMID: 21745417
12.  IL-4 and IL-13 exposure during mucociliary differentiation of bronchial epithelial cells increases antimicrobial activity and expression of antimicrobial peptides 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):59.
The airway epithelium forms a barrier against infection but also produces antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and other inflammatory mediators to activate the immune system. It has been shown that in allergic disorders, Th2 cytokines may hamper the antimicrobial activity of the epithelium. However, the presence of Th2 cytokines also affects the composition of the epithelial layer which may alter its function. Therefore, we investigated whether exposure of human primary bronchial epithelial cells (PBEC) to Th2 cytokines during mucociliary differentiation affects expression of the human cathelicidin antimicrobial protein (hCAP18)/LL-37 and human beta defensins (hBD), and antimicrobial activity.
PBEC were cultured at an air-liquid interface (ALI) for two weeks in the presence of various concentrations of IL-4 or IL-13. Changes in differentiation and in expression of various AMPs and the antimicrobial proteinase inhibitors secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) and elafin were investigated as well as antimicrobial activity.
IL-4 and IL-13 increased mRNA expression of hCAP18/LL-37 and hBD-2. Dot blot analysis also showed an increase in hCAP18/LL-37 protein in apical washes of IL-4-treated ALI cultures, whereas Western Blot analysis showed expression of a protein of approximately 4.5 kDa in basal medium of IL-4-treated cultures. Using sandwich ELISA we found that also hBD-2 in apical washes was increased by both IL-4 and IL-13. SLPI and elafin levels were not affected by IL-4 or IL-13 at the mRNA or protein level. Apical wash obtained from IL-4- and IL-13-treated cultures displayed increased antimicrobial activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa compared to medium-treated cultures. In addition, differentiation in the presence of Th2 cytokines resulted in increased MUC5AC production as has been shown previously.
These data suggest that prolonged exposure to Th2 cytokines during mucociliary differentiation contributes to antimicrobial defence by increasing the expression and release of selected antimicrobial peptides and mucus.
PMCID: PMC3113720  PMID: 21529380
human; lung; cell differentiation; allergy; inflammation
13.  Smoking status and anti-inflammatory macrophages in bronchoalveolar lavage and induced sputum in COPD 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):34.
Macrophages have been implicated in the pathogenesis of COPD. M1 and M2 macrophages constitute subpopulations displaying pro- and anti-inflammatory properties. We hypothesized that smoking cessation affects macrophage heterogeneity in the lung of patients with COPD. Our aim was to study macrophage heterogeneity using the M2-marker CD163 and selected pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and induced sputum from current smokers and ex-smokers with COPD.
114 COPD patients (72 current smokers; 42 ex-smokers, median smoking cessation 3.5 years) were studied cross-sectionally and underwent sputum induction (M/F 99/15, age 62 ± 8 [mean ± SD] years, 42 (31-55) [median (range)] packyears, post-bronchodilator FEV1 63 ± 9% predicted, no steroids past 6 months). BAL was collected from 71 patients. CD163+ macrophages were quantified in BAL and sputum cytospins. Pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators were measured in BAL and sputum supernatants.
Ex-smokers with COPD had a higher percentage, but lower number of CD163+ macrophages in BAL than current smokers (83.5% and 68.0%, p = 0.04; 5.6 and 20.1 ×104/ml, p = 0.001 respectively). The percentage CD163+ M2 macrophages was higher in BAL compared to sputum (74.0% and 30.3%, p < 0.001). BAL M-CSF levels were higher in smokers than ex-smokers (571 pg/ml and 150 pg/ml, p = 0.001) and correlated with the number of CD163+ BAL macrophages (Rs = 0.38, p = 0.003). No significant differences were found between smokers and ex-smokers in the levels of pro-inflammatory (IL-6 and IL-8), and anti-inflammatory (elafin, and Secretory Leukocyte Protease Inhibitor [SLPI]) mediators in BAL and sputum.
Our data suggest that smoking cessation partially changes the macrophage polarization in vivo in the periphery of the lung towards an anti-inflammatory phenotype, which is not accompanied by a decrease in inflammatory parameters.
PMCID: PMC3072953  PMID: 21426578
14.  Rapid KRAS, EGFR, BRAF and PIK3CA Mutation Analysis of Fine Needle Aspirates from Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer Using Allele-Specific qPCR 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17791.
Endobronchial Ultrasound Guided Transbronchial Needle Aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) and Trans-esophageal Ultrasound Scanning with Fine Needle Aspiration (EUS-FNA) are important, novel techniques for the diagnosis and staging of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that have been incorporated into lung cancer staging guidelines. To guide and optimize treatment decisions, especially for NSCLC patients in stage III and IV, EGFR and KRAS mutation status is often required. The concordance rate of the mutation analysis between these cytological aspirates and histological samples obtained by surgical staging is unknown. Therefore, we studied the extent to which allele-specific quantitative real-time PCR with hydrolysis probes could be reliably performed on EBUS and EUS fine needle aspirates by comparing the results with histological material from the same patient. We analyzed a series of 43 NSCLC patients for whom cytological and histological material was available. We demonstrated that these standard molecular techniques can be accurately applied on fine needle cytological aspirates from NSCLC patients. Importantly, we show that all mutations detected in the histological material of primary tumor were also identified in the cytological samples. We conclude that molecular profiling can be reliably performed on fine needle cytology aspirates from NSCLC patients.
PMCID: PMC3050927  PMID: 21408138
15.  Reduction in sputum neutrophil and eosinophil numbers by the PDE4 inhibitor roflumilast in patients with COPD 
Thorax  2007;62(12):1081-1087.
Roflumilast is a targeted oral once‐daily administered phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) inhibitor with clinical efficacy in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Results from in vitro studies with roflumilast indicate that it has anti‐inflammatory properties that may be applicable for the treatment of COPD.
In a crossover study, 38 patients with COPD (mean (SD) age 63.1 (7.0) years, post‐bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) 61.0 (12.6)% predicted) received 500 μg roflumilast or placebo once daily for 4 weeks. Induced sputum samples were collected before and after 2 and 4 weeks of treatment. Differential and absolute cell counts were determined in whole sputum samples. Markers of inflammation were determined in sputum supernatants and blood. Spirometry was performed weekly.
Roflumilast significantly reduced the absolute number of neutrophils and eosinophils/g sputum compared with placebo by 35.5% (95% CI 15.6% to 50.7%; p = 0.002) and 50.0% (95% CI 26.8% to 65.8%; p<0.001), respectively. The relative proportion of sputum neutrophils and eosinophils was not affected by treatment (p>0.05). Levels of soluble interleukin‐8, neutrophil elastase, eosinophil cationic protein and α2‐macroglobulin in sputum and the release of tumour necrosis factor α from blood cells were significantly reduced by roflumilast compared with placebo treatment (p<0.05 for all). Post‐bronchodilator FEV1 improved significantly during roflumilast compared with placebo treatment with a mean difference between treatments of 68.7 ml (95% CI 12.9 to 124.5; p = 0.018).
PDE4 inhibition by roflumilast treatment for 4 weeks reduced the number of neutrophils and eosinophils, as well as soluble markers of neutrophilic and eosinophilic inflammatory activity in induced sputum samples of patients with COPD. This anti‐inflammatory effect may in part explain the concomitant improvement in post‐bronchodilator FEV1.
PMCID: PMC2094292  PMID: 17573446
16.  Concerns About Exercise Are Related to Walk Test Results in Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Patients with COPD 
Although international guidelines on pulmonary rehabilitation acknowledge that psychological factors contribute to exercise intolerance in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the few empirical studies investigating this association have found inconsistent results.
The purpose of this study is to investigate whether negative affect and beliefs about exercise of patients with COPD would be related to baseline 6-min walk (6-MW) test results in a pulmonary rehabilitation setting, after correction for physical variables (sex, age, height, weight, and lung function). A second aim was to examine whether patients' beliefs are associated with treatment outcomes, as measured by an improvement in 6-MW distance.
A 12-week pulmonary rehabilitation program was completed by 166 patients. Beliefs (perceived necessity and concerns) about exercise and negative affect were assessed by a questionnaire. Clinical data were obtained from medical records.
Baseline 6-MW distance was positively related to younger age, male gender, better pulmonary function, and having fewer concerns about exercise. After rehabilitation, patients had increased their walk distance by 12% (32 m), on average. Baseline physiological and psychological variables were unrelated to patients' response to treatment (increase in walk distance). However, subgroup analysis showed that for patients with mild to moderate airflow obstruction, concerns about exercise were negatively related to response to treatment.
We conclude that patients' beliefs about the negative consequences of exercise are associated with baseline 6-MW test performance and response to treatment for patients with mild to moderate COPD. We recommend that patients' concerns about exercise are discussed and, if necessary, corrected during the intake phase.
PMCID: PMC3277820  PMID: 21080250
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Exercise training; Negative affect; Pulmonary rehabilitation; Self-regulation; Treatment beliefs
17.  Differential distribution of inflammatory cells in large and small airways in smokers 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  2006;60(8):907-911.
Smoking induces structural changes in the airways, and is considered a major factor in the development of airflow obstruction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. However, differences in inflammatory cell distribution between large airways (LA) and small airways (SA) have not been systematically explored in smokers.
The content of cells infiltrating the airway wall differs between LA and SA.
To compare the content of neutrophils, macrophages, lymphocytes and mast cells infiltrating LA and SA in smokers who underwent surgery for lung cancer.
Lung tissue from 15 smokers was analysed. Inflammatory cells in the lamina propria were identified by immunohistochemical analysis, quantified by digital image analysis and expressed as number of cells per surface area.
The number of neutrophils infiltrating the lamina propria of SA (median 225.3 cells/mm2) was higher than that in the lamina propria of LA (median 60.2 cells/mm2; p<0.001). Similar results were observed for mast cells: 313.3 and 133.7 cells/mm2 in the SA and LA, respectively (p<0.001). In contrast, the number of CD4 cells was higher in LA compared with SA (median 217.8 vs 80.5 cells/mm2; p = 0.042). Conclusions: These findings indicate a non‐uniform distribution of neutrophils and mast cells throughout the bronchial tree, and suggest that these cells may be involved in the development of smoking‐related peripheral lung injury.
PMCID: PMC1994511  PMID: 16917001
18.  Weekly self-monitoring and treatment adjustment benefit patients with partly controlled and uncontrolled asthma: an analysis of the SMASHING study 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):74.
Internet-based self-management has shown to improve asthma control and asthma related quality of life, but the improvements were only marginally clinically relevant for the group as a whole. We hypothesized that self-management guided by weekly monitoring of asthma control tailors pharmacological therapy to individual needs and improves asthma control for patients with partly controlled or uncontrolled asthma.
In a 1-year randomised controlled trial involving 200 adults (18-50 years) with mild to moderate persistent asthma we evaluated the adherence with weekly monitoring and effect on asthma control and pharmacological treatment of a self-management algorithm based on the Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ). Participants were assigned either to the Internet group (n = 101) that monitored asthma control weekly with the ACQ on the Internet and adjusted treatment using a self-management algorithm supervised by an asthma nurse specialist or to the usual care group (UC) (n = 99). We analysed 3 subgroups: patients with well controlled (ACQ ≤ 0.75), partly controlled (0.75>ACQ ≤ 1.5) or uncontrolled (ACQ>1.5) asthma at baseline.
Overall monitoring adherence was 67% (95% CI, 60% to 74%). Improvements in ACQ score after 12 months were -0.14 (p = 0.23), -0.52 (p < 0.001) and -0.82 (p < 0.001) in the Internet group compared to usual care for patients with well, partly and uncontrolled asthma at baseline, respectively. Daily inhaled corticosteroid dose significantly increased in the Internet group compared to usual care in the first 3 months in patients with uncontrolled asthma (+278 μg, p = 0.001), but not in patients with well or partly controlled asthma. After one year there were no differences in daily inhaled corticosteroid use or long-acting β2-agonists between the Internet group and usual care.
Weekly self-monitoring and subsequent treatment adjustment leads to improved asthma control in patients with partly and uncontrolled asthma at baseline and tailors asthma medication to individual patients' needs.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN79864465
PMCID: PMC2893513  PMID: 20537124
19.  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
20.  Markers of exacerbation severity in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory Research  2006;7(1):74.
Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can experience 'exacerbations' of their conditions. An exacerbation is an event defined in terms of subjective descriptors or symptoms, namely dyspnoea, cough and sputum that worsen sufficiently to warrant a change in medical management. There is a need for reliable markers that reflect the pathological mechanisms that underlie exacerbation severity and that can be used as a surrogate to assess treatment effects in clinical studies. Little is known as to how existing study variables and suggested markers change in both the stable and exacerbation phases of COPD. In an attempt to find the best surrogates for exacerbations, we have reviewed the literature to identify which of these markers change in a consistent manner with the severity of the exacerbation event.
We have searched standard databases between 1966 to July 2004 using major keywords and terms. Studies that provided demographics, spirometry, potential markers, and clear eligibility criteria were included in this study. Central tendencies and dispersions for all the variables and markers reported and collected by us were first tabulated according to sample size and ATS/ERS 2004 Exacerbation Severity Levels I to III criteria. Due to the possible similarity of patients in Levels II and III, the data was also redefined into categories of exacerbations, namely out-patient (Level I) and in-patient (Levels II & III combined). For both approaches, we performed a fixed effect meta-analysis on each of the reported variables.
We included a total of 268 studies reported between 1979 to July 2004. These studies investigated 142,407 patients with COPD. Arterial carbon dioxide tension and breathing rate were statistically different between all levels of exacerbation severity and between in out- and in-patient settings. Most other measures showed weak relationships with either level or setting, or they had insufficient data to permit meta-analysis.
Arterial carbon dioxide and breathing rate varied in a consistent manner with exacerbation severity and patient setting. Many other measures showed weak correlations that should be further explored in future longitudinal studies or assessed using suggested mathematical modelling techniques.
PMCID: PMC1481583  PMID: 16686949
21.  A molecular signature of epithelial host defense: comparative gene expression analysis of cultured bronchial epithelial cells and keratinocytes 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:9.
Epithelia are barrier-forming tissues that protect the organism against external noxious stimuli. Despite the similarity in function of epithelia, only few common protective mechanisms that are employed by these tissues have been systematically studied. Comparative analysis of genome-wide expression profiles generated by means of Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE) is a powerful approach to yield further insight into epithelial host defense mechanisms. We performed an extensive comparative analysis of previously published SAGE data sets of two types of epithelial cells, namely bronchial epithelial cells and keratinocytes, in which the response to pro-inflammatory cytokines was assessed. These data sets were used to elucidate a common denominator in epithelial host defense.
Bronchial epithelial cells and keratinocytes were found to have a high degree of overlap in gene expression. Using an in silico approach, an epithelial-specific molecular signature of gene expression was identified in bronchial epithelial cells and keratinocytes comprising of family members of keratins, small proline-rich proteins and proteinase inhibitors. Whereas some of the identified genes were known to be involved in inflammation, the majority of the signature represented genes that were previously not associated with host defense. Using polymerase chain reaction, presence of expression of selected tissue-specific genes was validated.
Our comparative analysis of gene transcription reveals that bronchial epithelial cells and keratinocytes both express a subset of genes that is likely to be essential in epithelial barrier formation in these cell types. The expression of these genes is specific for bronchial epithelial cells and keratinocytes and is not seen in non-epithelial cells. We show that bronchial epithelial cells, similar to keratinocytes, express components that are able to form a cross-linked protein envelope that may contribute to an effective barrier against noxious stimuli and pathogens.
PMCID: PMC1382211  PMID: 16420688
22.  Effects of cigarette smoke condensate on proliferation and wound closure of bronchial epithelial cells in vitro: role of glutathione 
Respiratory Research  2005;6(1):140.
Increased airway epithelial proliferation is frequently observed in smokers. To elucidate the molecular mechanisms leading to these epithelial changes, we studied the effect of cigarette smoke condensate (CSC) on cell proliferation, wound closure and mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation. We also studied whether modulation of intracellular glutathione/thiol levels could attenuate CSC-induced cell proliferation.
Cells of the bronchial epithelial cell line NCI-H292 and subcultures of primary bronchial epithelial cells were used for the present study. The effect of CSC on epithelial proliferation was assessed using 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation. Modulation of epithelial wound repair was studied by analysis of closure of 3 mm circular scrape wounds during 72 hours of culture. Wound closure was calculated from digital images obtained at 24 h intervals. Activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases was assessed by Western blotting using phospho-specific antibodies.
At low concentrations CSC increased proliferation of NCI-H292 cells, whereas high concentrations were inhibitory as a result of cytotoxicity. Low concentrations of CSC also increased epithelial wound closure of both NCI-H292 and PBEC, whereas at high concentrations closure was inhibited. At low, mitogenic concentrations, CSC caused persistent activation of ERK1/2, a MAPK involved in cell proliferation. Inhibition of cell proliferation by high concentrations of CSC was associated with activation of the pro-apoptotic MAP kinases p38 and JNK. Modulation of intracellular glutathione (GSH)/thiol levels using N-acetyl-L-cysteine, GSH or buthionine sulphoximine (BSO), demonstrated that both the stimulatory and the inhibitory effects of CSC were regulated in part by intracellular GSH levels.
These results indicate that CSC may increase cell proliferation and wound closure dependent on the local concentration of cigarette smoke and the anti-oxidant status. These findings are consistent with increased epithelial proliferation in smokers, and may provide further insight in the development of lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC1315328  PMID: 16309548

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