Rationale: Recurrent pulmonary exacerbations are associated with progressive lung disease in cystic fibrosis (CF). Current definitions of an exacerbation, although not precisely defined, include new/worsening symptoms, declining lung function, and/or changing radiologic appearance. Early diagnosis of exacerbations by rapid noninvasive means should expedite therapeutic intervention, thereby minimizing lung damage.
Objectives: To identify biomarkers of lung exacerbation for point-of-care monitoring of CF lung disease progression.
Methods: Saline-induced sputum was collected from adults with CF with an exacerbation and requiring hospitalization (FEV(1) < 60%), a subset of these adults at hospital discharge, children with stable CF and preserved lung function (FEV(1) > 70%), and control subjects (FEV(1) > 80%). Sputum was arrayed by two-dimensional electrophoresis and differentially expressed proteins were identified by proteomic analysis.
Measurements and main results: Sputum profiles from adults with CF with an exacerbation were characterized by extensive proteolytic degradation and influx of inflammation-related proteins, with some adults with CF approaching a "healthy" protein profile after hospitalization. Two children with CF showed profiles and biomarker expression resembling those of adults with an exacerbation. Levels of differentially expressed myeloperoxidase, cleaved alpha(1)-antitrypsin, IgG degradation, interleukin-8, and total protein concentration, together with their correlation to FEV(1), were statistically significant. Statistical correlation analyses indicated that changes in myeloperoxidase expression and IgG degradation were the strongest predictors of FEV(1).
Conclusions: We identified extensive protein degradation and differentially expressed proteins as biomarkers of inflammation relating to pulmonary exacerbations. Prediction of exacerbation onset and more precise evaluation of the extent of resolution with treatment could be achieved by including biomarkers in standard assessment.