Measurements of desmosine and isodesmosine by mass spectrometry in COPD

Chest. 2007 May;131(5):1363-71. doi: 10.1378/chest.06-2251.


Objectives: Application of mass spectrometry (MS) for direct measurements of desmosine (D) and isodesmosine (I) in urine, plasma, and sputum as markers of elastin degradation in patients with alpha(1)-antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) and non-AATD-related COPD.

Background: In COPD patients, the lungs undergo elastin injury, which can be monitored by measurements of D and I in body fluids as specific markers of elastin degradation using the specificity and sensitivity of MS.

Methods: Acid hydrolysis of blood plasma, 24-h urine and sputum measurements, followed by chromatographic separation for mass spectrometric analysis.

Results: Each patient group had levels of plasma D and I that were statistically significantly higher than those of control subjects. AATD patients had higher levels than COPD patients with normal alpha(1)-antitrypsin (AAT) levels. Twenty-four-hour urine measurements demonstrated no significant difference in total levels of D and I among control subjects and patients but showed a free (unbound) concentration of D and I in urine, which was statistically significantly higher in patients with COPD with and without AAT. The D and I levels in the sputum of patients with AATD exceeded the levels in COPD patients with normal AAT levels.

Conclusions: MS allows a sensitive and specific analysis of D and I in body fluids. The quantification of D and I in sputum, along with increases of D and I in plasma and an elevated free component of D and I in urine provide indexes that characterize patients with COPD and can be followed in relation to the course of the disease and/or therapy.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Desmosine / analysis*
  • Elastin / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isodesmosine / analysis*
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / blood
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / classification
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / urine
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sputum / chemistry
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency / metabolism


  • Desmosine
  • Elastin
  • Isodesmosine