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1.  Proteomic Changes of Alveolar Lining Fluid in Illnesses Associated with Exposure to Inhaled Non-Infectious Microbial Particles 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102624.
Hyperresponsiveness to inhaled non-infectious microbial particles (NIMPs) has been associated with illnesses in the airways. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) is considered to be the prototype for these NIMPs-related diseases; however, there is no consensus on the definitions or diagnostic criteria for HP and the spectrum of related illnesses.
Methods and Findings
In order to identify the possible diagnostic markers for illnesses associated with NIMPs in alveolar lining fluid, we performed a proteomic analysis using a two-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis on bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid from patients with exposure to NIMPs in the context of damp building-related illness (DBRI) or conditions on the borderline to acute HP, designated here as agricultural type of microbial exposure (AME). Samples from patients with HP and sarcoidosis (SARC) were included for reference. Results were compared to results of healthy subjects (CTR). Western blot was used for validation of potential marker proteins from BAL fluid and plasma. Protein expression patterns suggest a close similarity between AME and HP, while DBRI was similar to CTR. However, in DBRI the levels of the inflammation associated molecules galectin-3 and alpha-1-antitrypsin were increased. A novel finding emerging from this study was the increases of semenogelin levels in BAL fluid from patients with AME, HP and SARC. Histone 4 levels were increased in AME, HP and SARC. Elevated plasma levels of histone 2B were detected in HP and SARC, suggesting it to be a potential blood indicator for inflammatory diseases of the lungs.
In this study, the proteomic changes in bronchoalveolar lavage of DBRI patients were distinct from other NIMP exposure associated lung diseases, while changes in AME overlapped those observed for HP patient samples. Some of the proteins identified in this study, semenogelin and histone 4, could function as diagnostic markers for differential diagnosis between DBRI and HP-like conditions.
PMCID: PMC4102538  PMID: 25033447
2.  Thoracic gas compression during forced expiration in patients with emphysema, interstitial lung disease and obesity 
Dynamic gas compression during forced expiration has an influence on conventional flow-volume spirometry results. The extent of gas compression in different pulmonary disorders remains obscure. Utilizing a flow plethysmograph we determined the difference between thoracic and mouth flows during forced expiration as an indication of thoracic gas compression in subjects with different pulmonary diseases characterized by limitations in pulmonary mechanics.
Patients with emphysema (N = 16), interstitial lung disease (ILD) (N = 15), obesity (N = 15) and healthy controls (N = 16) were included. Compressed expiratory flow-volume curves (at mouth) and corresponding compression-free curves (thoracic) were recorded. Peak flow (PEF) and maximal flows at 75%, 50% and 25% of remaining forced vital capacity (MEF75, MEF50 and MEF25) were derived from both recordings. Their respective difference was assessed as an indicator of gas compression.
In all groups, significant differences between thoracic and mouth flows were found at MEF50 (p < 0.01). In controls, a significant difference was also measured at MEF75 (p <0.005), in emphysema subjects, at PEF and MEF75 (p < 0.05, p < 0.005) and in obese subjects at MEF75 (p <0.005) and MEF25 (p < 0.01). ILD patients showed the lowest difference between thoracic and mouth flows at MEF75 relative to controls and emphysema patients (p < 0.005, p < 0.001). Obese subjects did not differ from controls, however, the difference between thoracic and mouth flows was significantly higher than in patients with emphysema at MEF50 (p < 0.001) and MEF25 (p < 0.005).
Alveolar gas compression distorts the forced expiratory flow volume curve in all studied groups at the middle fraction of forced expiratory flow. Consequently, mouth flows are underestimated and the reduction of flow measured at 75% and 50% of vital capacity is often considerable. However, gas compression profiles in stiff lungs, in patients with decreased elastic recoil in emphysema and in obesity differ; the difference between thoracic and mouth flows in forced expiration was minimal in ILD at the first part of forced expiration and was higher in obesity than in emphysema at the middle and last parts of forced expiration.
PMCID: PMC3975867  PMID: 24593176
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Emphysema; Flow plethysmography; Healthy control; Interstitial lung disease; Obesity; Thoracic gas compression
3.  Association of genes of protease-antiprotease balance pathway to lung function and emphysema subtypes 
The imbalance between proteases and antiproteases has been proposed to participate to the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema. Gene level variation in different metalloproteinases, metalloproteinase inhibitors, and cytokines affecting them may contribute to this imbalance and destruction of the lung parenchyma. We investigated whether polymorphisms in selected protease-antiprotease balance pathway genes predispose to different emphysema subtypes (centrilobular, paraseptal, panlobular, and bullae) and airflow limitation among Finnish construction workers.
Eleven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from seven genes (GC: rs7041 and rs4588; MMP1: rs1799750; MMP9: rs3918242; MMP12: rs652438; TIMP2: rs2277698; TNF: rs1799724 and rs1800629; TGFB1: rs1800469, rs1800470, and rs2241718) were analyzed from 951 clinically and radiologically characterized construction workers. The genotype and haplotype data was compared to different emphysematous signs confirmed with high resolution computed tomography (HRCT), forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and maximal expiratory flow at 50% of FVC (MEF50) by using linear and logistic regression analyses, adjusted for potential confounders.
The TIMP2 rs2277698 SNP was associated with overall (p = 0.022) and paraseptal (p = 0.010) emphysema, as well as with FEV1/FVC ratio (p = 0.035) and MEF50 (p = 0.008). The TGFB1 rs2241718 and MMP9 rs3918242 SNPs were associated with centrilobular emphysema (p = 0.022 and p = 0.008), and the TNF rs1800629 SNP with paraseptal emphysema (p = 0.017). In stratified analysis, individuals with at least one TIMP2 rs2277698 or TNF rs1800629 variant allele were found to be at around two-fold risk for pathological paraseptal changes (OR 1.94, 95% CI 1.14-3.30; OR 2.10, 95% CI 1.24-3.56). On the contrary, the risk for pathological centrilobular changes was halved for individuals with at least one MMP9 rs3918242 (OR 0.51, 95% CI 0.30-0.86) or TGFB1 rs2241718 (OR 0.53, 95% CI 0.30-0.90) variant allele, or TGFB1 rs1800469-rs1800470 AT-haplotype (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.33-0.93). MEF50, in turn, was significantly reduced among individuals with at least one TIMP2 rs2277698 variant allele (p = 0.011).
Our findings strengthen the hypothesis of the importance of protease-antiprotease balance in pathogenesis of emphysema and shed light on the aetiology of different emphysema subtypes by associating MMP9 and TGFB1 to centrilobular emphysema, and TIMP2 and TNF to paraseptal emphysema and/or airflow obstruction.
PMCID: PMC3680142  PMID: 23734748
Emphysema; Lung function; Genetics; Protease-antiprotease balance
4.  Reactive airways dysfunction syndrome from acute inhalation of dishwasher detergent powder 
Reactive airway dysfunction syndrome, a type of occupational asthma without a latency period, is induced by irritating vapour, fumes or smoke. The present report is the first to describe a case of reactive airway dysfunction syndrome caused by acute exposure to dishwater detergent containing sodium metasilicate and sodium dichloroisocyanurate. The diagnosis was based on exposure data, clinical symptoms and signs, as well as respiratory function tests. A 43-year-old nonatopic male apprentice cook developed respiratory symptoms immediately after exposure to a cloud of detergent powder that was made airborne by vigorous shaking of the package. In spirometry, combined obstructive and restrictive ventilatory impairment developed, and the histamine challenge test revealed bronchial hyper-responsiveness. Even routine handling of a strongly caustic detergent, such as filling a dishwasher container, is not entirely risk free and should be performed with caution.
PMCID: PMC3418100  PMID: 22679618
Cleansing; Occupational exposure; Occupational lung disease; Sodium dichloroisocyanurate; Sodium metasilicate
5.  SERPINE2 haplotype as a risk factor for panlobular type of emphysema 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:157.
SERPINE2 (serpin peptidase inhibitor, clade E, member 2) has previously been identified as a positional candidate gene for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and has subsequently been associated to COPD and emphysema in several populations. We aimed to further examine the role of SERPINE2 polymorphisms in the development of pulmonary emphysema and different emphysema subtypes.
Four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in SERPINE2 were analyzed from 951 clinically and radiologically examined Finnish construction workers. The genotype and haplotype data was compared to different emphysematous signs confirmed with high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT), forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), diffusing capacity (DLCO), and specific diffusing capacity (DLCO/VA).
Three of the studied SERPINE2 SNPs (rs729631, rs975278, and rs6748795) were found to be in tight linkage disequilibrium. Therefore, only one of these SNPs (rs729631) was included in the subsequent analyses, in addition to the rs840088 SNP which was in moderate linkage with the other three studied SNPs. The rs729631 SNP showed a significant association with panlobular emphysema (p = 0.003). In further analysis, the variant allele of the rs729631 SNP was found to pose over two-fold risk (OR 2.22, 95% CI 1.05-4.72) for overall panlobular changes and over four-fold risk (OR 4.37, 95% CI 1.61-11.86) for pathological panlobular changes. A haplotype consisting of variant alleles of both rs729631 and rs840088 SNPs was found to pose an almost four-fold risk for overall panlobular (OR 3.72, 95% CI 1.56-8.90) and subnormal (OR 3.98, 95% CI 1.55-10.20) emphysema.
Our results support the previously found association between SERPINE2 polymorphisms and pulmonary emphysema. As a novel finding, our study suggests that the SERPINE2 gene may in particular be involved in the development of panlobular changes, i.e., the same type of changes that are involved in alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) -deficiency.
PMCID: PMC3269992  PMID: 22145704
6.  Attenuated expression of tenascin-c in ovalbumin-challenged STAT4-/- mice 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):2.
Asthma leads to structural changes in the airways, including the modification of extracellular matrix proteins such as tenascin-C. The role of tenascin-C is unclear, but it might act as an early initiator of airway wall remodelling, as its expression is increased in the mouse and human airways during allergic inflammation. In this study, we examined whether Th1 or Th2 cells are important regulators of tenascin-C in experimental allergic asthma utilizing mice with impaired Th1 (STAT4-/-) or Th2 (STAT6-/-) immunity.
Balb/c wildtype (WT), STAT4-/- and STAT6-/- mice were sensitized with intraperitoneally injected ovalbumin (OVA) followed by OVA or PBS airway challenge. Airway hyperreactivity (AHR) was measured and samples were collected. Real time PCR and immunohistochemistry were used to study cytokines and differences in the expression of tenascin-C. Tenascin-C expression was measured in human fibroblasts after treatment with TNF-α and IFN-γ in vitro.
OVA-challenged WT mice showed allergic inflammation and AHR in the airways along with increased expression of TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-4 and tenascin-C in the lungs. OVA-challenged STAT4-/- mice exhibited elevated AHR and pulmonary eosinophilia. The mRNA expression of TNF-α and IFN-γ was low, but the expression of IL-4 was significantly elevated in these mice. OVA-challenged STAT6-/- mice had neither AHR nor pulmonary eosinophilia, but had increased expression of mRNA for TNF-α, IFN-γ and IL-4. The expression of tenascin-C in the lungs of OVA-challenged STAT4-/- mice was weaker than in those of OVA-challenged WT and STAT6-/- mice suggesting that TNF-α and IFN-γ may regulate tenascin-C expression in vivo. The stimulation of human fibroblasts with TNF-α and IFN-γ induced the expression of tenascin-C confirming our in vivo findings.
Expression of tenascin-C is significantly attenuated in the airways of STAT4-/- mice, which may be due to the impaired secretion of TNF-α and IFN-γ in these mice.
PMCID: PMC3024219  PMID: 21205293
7.  Repeatability of exhaled nitric oxide measurements in patients with COPD 
The assessment of the presence of eosinophilic airway inflammation may help in predicting the steroid response in subjects with respiratory symptoms. Unlike patients with asthma, only a subset of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) benefits from steroid treatment. Fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FENO) is a useful surrogate marker for eosinophilic airway inflammation, but data on the repeatability of FENO measurements in COPD needed for the assessment of significant change are insufficient. The aim of this study was to assess the short-term repeatability of FENO measurement in subjects with moderate to very severe chronic airway obstruction compared to that in healthy subjects. We studied 20 patients with stable COPD and 20 healthy subjects, and determined FENO (flow rate 50 ml s−1) three times: at baseline, 10 min and 24 h after baseline. Spirometry was performed on the first study day after the FENO measurements. The median FENO concentration in patients with COPD was 15·6 ppb, and in healthy subjects, 15·2 ppb. The coefficient of variation (CoV) for 24-h measurements was 12·4% in COPD patients, and 15·9% in healthy subjects. Among COPD patients with global initiative for chronic obstructive lung disease stage 2 disease, the CoV was 13·7%, and among those with stage 3–4 disease, 10·5%. The findings indicate that the short-term repeatability of FENO measurement in patients with moderate to very severe COPD is equally good as in healthy subjects. A change in FENO exceeding 24% is likely to reflect a minimum measurable change in COPD.
PMCID: PMC3047709  PMID: 21143751
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; eosinophilic inflammation; fixed bronchial obstruction; fractional exhaled nitric oxide; reproducibility
8.  Reduction in membrane component of diffusing capacity is associated with the extent of acute pulmonary embolism 
Acute pulmonary embolism (PE) often decreases pulmonary diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (DL,CO), but data on the mechanisms involved are inconsistent. We wanted to investigate whether reduction in diffusing capacity of alveolo-capillary membrane (DM) and pulmonary capillary blood volume (Vc) is associated with the extent of PE or the presence and severity of right ventricular dysfunction (RVD) induced by PE and how the possible changes are corrected after 7-month follow-up. Forty-seven patients with acute non-massive PE in spiral computed tomography (CT) were included. The extent of PE was assessed by scoring mass of embolism. DL,CO, Vc, DM and alveolar volume (VA) were measured by using a single breath method with carbon monoxide and oxygen both at the acute phase and 7 months later. RVD was evaluated with transthoracic echocardiography and electrocardiogram. Fifteen healthy subjects were included as controls. DL,CO, DL, CO/VA, DM, vital capacity (VC) and VA were significantly lower in the patients with acute PE than in healthy controls (P<0·001). DM/Vc relation was significantly lower in patients with RVD than in healthy controls (P = 0·004). DM correlated inversely with central mass of embolism (r = −0·312; P = 0·047) whereas Vc did not. DM, DL,CO, VC and VA improved significantly within 7 months. In all patients (P = 0·001, P = 0·001) and persistent RVD (P = 0·020, P = 0·012), DM and DL,CO remained significantly lower than in healthy controls in the follow-up. DM was inversely related to central mass of embolism. Reduction in DM mainly explains the sustained decrease in DL,CO in PE after 7 months despite modern treatment of PE.
PMCID: PMC3121963  PMID: 21143754
diffusing capacity; diffusing capacity of membrane; pulmonary capillary blood volume; pulmonary embolism; right ventricular dysfunction
9.  Atopic sensitization to common allergens without symptoms or signs of airway disorders does not increase exhaled nitric oxide 
The Clinical Respiratory Journal  2008;2(3):141-148.
Elevated fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FENO) associates positively with symptomatic atopy among asthmatics and in the general population. It is, however, unclear whether sensitization to common allergens per se– as verified with positive skin prick tests – affects FENO in healthy individuals.
The aim of this study was to examine the association between FENO and sensitization to common allergens in healthy nonsmoking adults with no signs or symptoms of airway disorders.
FENO measurements (flow rate: 50 mL/s), skin prick tests to common inhalant allergens, structured interviews, spirometry, bronchodilatation tests and bronchial histamine challenges were performed on a randomly selected population of 248 subjects. Seventy-three of them (29%) were nonsmoking asymptomatic adults with no history of asthma, persistent or recurrent upper or lower airway symptoms and no signs of airway disorders in the tests listed above.
FENO concentrations were similar in skin prick test positive (n = 32) and negative (n = 41) healthy subjects, with median values of 13.2 and 15.5 ppb, respectively (P = 0.304). No correlation appeared between FENO and the number of positive reactions (r = −0.138; P = 0.244), or the total sum of wheal diameters (r = −0.135; P = 0.254). The nonparametric one-tailed 95% upper limits of FENO among skin prick positive and negative healthy nonsmoking subjects were 29 and 31 ppb, respectively.
Atopic constitution defined as positive skin prick test results does not increase FENO in healthy nonsmoking adults with no signs or symptoms of airway disorders. This suggests that same reference ranges for FENO can be applied to both skin prick test positive and negative subjects.
Please cite this paper as: Rouhos A, Kainu A, Karjalainen J, Lindqvist A, Piirilä P, Sarna S, Haahtela T and Sovijärvi ARA. Atopic sensitization to common allergens without symptoms or signs of airway disorders does not increase exhaled nitric oxide. The Clinical Respiratory Journal 2008; 2: 141–148.
PMCID: PMC3272347  PMID: 20298322
airway inflammation; atopy; exhaled nitric oxide; healthy adults; skin prick tests
10.  Genes involved in innate immunity associated with asbestos-related fibrotic changes 
To determine whether genetic polymorphisms in several candidate genes related to innate immunity and protease–antiprotease balance modify individual susceptibility to develop asbestos-related fibrotic pleuropulmonary changes.
Sixteen polymorphisms from nine genes (NLRP3, CARD8, TNF, TGFB1, GC, MMP1, MMP9, MMP12 and TIMP2) were genotyped from 951 Finnish asbestos-exposed workers. The genotype/haplotype data were compared to signs of fibrosis and pleural thickenings using linear and logistic regression analysis adjusted for potential confounders.
A functional polymorphism (Q705K; rs35829419) in the NLRP3 gene was associated with interstitial lung fibrosis (p=0.013), and the TGFB1 rs2241718 SNP with visceral pleural fibrosis (VPF) (p=0.044). In stratified analysis, the carriage of at least one NLRP3 variant allele conferred a 2.5-fold increased risk for pathological interstitial lung fibrosis (OR 2.44, 95% CI 0.97 to 6.14). Conversely, the carriage of at least one TGFB1 rs2241718 variant allele protected against VPF (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.39 to 0.98). The TIMP2 rs2277698 SNP and a haplotype consisting of the TGFB1 rs1800469 and rs1800470 SNPs were associated with the degree of pleural thickening calcification (p=0.037 and p=0.035), and the CARD8 rs2043211 SNP with the greatest thickness of pleural plaques (p=0.015).
Our results support the hypothesis that the NLRP3 inflammasome is important in the development of fibrotic lung disease by associating the NLRP3 rs35829419 variant allele with increased risk of asbestos-related interstitial lung fibrosis, and the TGFB1 rs2241718 variant allele with decreased risk of asbestos-related VPF. Polymorphisms in CARD8 and TIMP2 are proposed to modify the development and/or calcification of pleural thickenings.
PMCID: PMC3888604  PMID: 24142982

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