Detection of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator activity in early-phase clinical trials

Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2007 Aug 1;4(4):387-98. doi: 10.1513/pats.200703-043BR.


Advances in our understanding of cystic fibrosis pathogenesis have led to strategies directed toward treatment of underlying causes of the disease rather than treatments of disease-related symptoms. To expedite evaluation of these emerging therapies, early-phase clinical trials require extension of in vivo cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR)-detecting assays to multicenter trial formats, including nasal potential difference and sweat chloride measurements. Both of these techniques can be used to fulfill diagnostic criteria for the disease, and can discriminate various levels of CFTR function. Full realization of these assays in multicenter clinical trials requires identification of sources of nonbiological intra- and intersite variability, and careful attention to study design and statistical analysis of study-generated data. In this review, we discuss several issues important to the performance of these assays, including efforts to identify and address aspects that can contribute to inconsistent and/or potentially erroneous results. Adjunctive means of detecting CFTR including mRNA expression, immunocytochemical localization, and other methods are also discussed. Recommendations are presented to advance our understanding of these biomarkers and to improve their capacity to predict cystic fibrosis outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / therapy
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / analysis
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / physiology*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Nasal Mucosa / chemistry
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sweat / chemistry


  • Biomarkers
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator