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.