An elevated breathing reserve index at the lactate threshold is a predictor of mortality in patients with cystic fibrosis awaiting lung transplantation

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2002 Jun 15;165(12):1629-33. doi: 10.1164/rccm.2105090.


The proportion of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients dying while on the lung transplant wait list remains high; identification of such patients remains difficult. The breathing reserve index (BRI = minute ventilation/maximal voluntary ventilation) at the lactate threshold (LT) is a predictor of a pulmonary mechanical limit to incremental exercise. We hypothesized that an elevated BRI at the LT in patients with CF awaiting lung transplantation would be a predictor of wait list mortality. Forty-five consecutive patients with CF completed cardiopulmonary exercise testing as part of their pretransplant assessment. We evaluated BRI at LT, baseline demographic characteristics, pulmonary function, and other exercise parameters via Cox proportional hazards modeling. Fifteen patients died while awaiting transplant. Twenty one were transplanted, and nine still awaited transplantation. Relative risks from the multivariate model included (95% confidence interval in parentheses) BRI at LT, 17.52 (2.45-123.97); resting Pa(CO(2)), 1.29 (1.10-1.49); resting Pa(O(2)), 0.97 (0.90-1.05); and forced expiratory volume at one second as a percent of predicted, 1.19 (1.05-1.34). BRI at LT not only provided the highest point estimate of risk for wait list mortality but also identified a physiologically significant threshold value (0.70 or more) for those at risk. This measurement may allow improved timing of listing for transplantation, including consideration for living donor transplantation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anaerobic Threshold / physiology*
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / metabolism
  • Cystic Fibrosis / mortality*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism*
  • Lung Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Waiting Lists*


  • Lactic Acid