As part of the ongoing Wisconsin Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Neonatal Screening Project, we had the unique opportunity to study the longitudinal relationship between Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Pa) acquisition and infection and developing lung disease in children with CF. The primary objective was to determine whether acquisition of Pa was associated with a measurable change in the progression of lung disease. Two outcome measures were used to study 56 patients who were diagnosed through newborn screening: 1) Wisconsin additive chest radiograph score (WCXR), based on the average of scores from a pulmonologist and a radiologist, and 2) the highest forced expired volume in 1 sec (FEV(1))/forced vital capacity (FVC) ratio. We used two measures of Pa acquisition: 1) time of first positive protocol-determined oropharyngeal (with cough) culture, and 2) the magnitude of antibody titer detected by ELISA assays, using as antigen a crude cell lysate, purified exotoxin A, or an elastase toxoid prepared from three Pa strains. Other predictor variables included age, pancreatic status, height-for age, and weight-for-age-percentiles. The best regression model for predicting changes in the WCXR included time to first positive culture and antibody titer for Pa elastase. Prior to Pa acquisition, WCXR worsened by 0.45 points/year (P > 0.25); after Pa acquisition, the rate of worsening increased significantly (P < 0.001) to 1.40 points/year. Each antibody titer level (log base 2) increased the score by 0.48 points (P < 0.001). The best regression model for predicting change in the FEV(1)/FVC included only time to first positive culture. Prior to Pa acquisition, the FEV(1)/FVC ratio declined by 1.29%/year; after Pa infection, the rate of decrease significantly accelerated to 1.81%/year (P = 0.001). Our data show that Pa acquisition is associated with declining pulmonary status in children with CF, and that this effect is probably gradual rather than precipitous. Because these patients were diagnosed and treated aggressively, our estimates of the effects of Pa acquisition may be conservative. We also conclude that the WCXR appears to be more sensitive than FEV(1)/FVC in detecting early changes in lung disease associated with CF.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.