New Biomarker for COPD

Microparticles could be new biomarker for COPD, Italian researchers report.

Scientists have discovered a potential biomarker for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Donato Lacedonia, of the Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences at the Institute of Respiratory Diseases, and colleagues recently conducted a study which found that microparticles (MPs) found in the sputum of COPD could reveal the pathogenesis of the disease. Their work was published in the International Journal of COPD on March 14, 2016.

“We investigated the presence and source of MPs in sputum of COPD patients to evaluate if changes in MP number and origin may reflect the pathophysiological conditions of disease and may serve as potential biomarkers for diagnostic and prognostic use,” said the researchers. In order to investigate, they collected sputum from study participants, isolated MPs, characterized them, and performed a statistical analysis.

The patients for this study were recruited from Institute of Respiratory Diseases at the Hospital of Riuniti of Foggia in Foggia, Italy. There were a total of 18 participants, all male, aged between 51 and 85 years. Each had mild to severe COPD, and were former smokers who had not smoked for at least 1 year. The majority of them had the comorbidity of cardiovascular disease. They completed a study questionnaire, provided a COPD Assessment Test score, completed the 6-minute walking test, provided BMI, and underwent standardized spirometry.

The researchers report, “MPs were found in induced sputum of all 18 subjects enrolled,” and go on to say that “the MP phenotype was analyzed by evaluating the presence of different antigens representing all cell types.”

They identified several findings, and said, “the main result of the present study is the demonstration that in the sputum of patients affected by COPD, it is also possible to detect the presence of MPs.” Additionally, they found that the phenotype of some of the MPs is related to measures used to identify and evaluate COPD, such as FEV1, BODE index, or the 6-minute walking test. “These results, together with other data, suggest that MPs are likely implicated in the pathogenesis of COPD,” say the researchers.

The small number of study participants, along with the lack of a control group, represent obvious limitations to this study. However, even with those limitations, the researchers suggest that the presence of MPs “COPD sputum could be a new noninvasive method to monitor the disease course.” They also suggest that future studies should “evaluate if different stages of diseases can influence the phenotype of MPs and define the possible role of them in monitoring the effectiveness of medication.”