Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin: a biomarker in COPD

Chest. 2010 Oct;138(4):888-95. doi: 10.1378/chest.09-2718. Epub 2010 May 21.


Background: Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) is an antimicrobial peptide that could be involved in the pathogenesis of COPD. This study aimed to measure the plasma levels of NGAL in a large cohort of patients with COPD and control subjects and examine the levels of NGAL by COPD characteristics.

Methods: The study included 402 patients with COPD and 229 control subjects aged 40 to 76 years from the Bergen COPD Cohort Study. All patients with COPD had an FEV(1)/FVC ratio of < 0.7, an FEV(1) < 80% predicted, and a smoking history of ≥ 10 pack-years. Plasma levels of NGAL were determined by enzyme immunoassay. Linear regression models were fitted with NGAL as the outcome variable. Confounders examined were sex, age, smoking, Charlson comorbidity score, use of inhaled steroids, neutrophil cell count, plasma creatinine and ferritin, and C-reactive protein.

Results: Mean ± SD plasma concentrations of NGAL were 75.1 ± 31.8 ng/mL in patients with COPD and 56.5 ± 22.0 ng/mL in control subjects (P < .01). NGAL levels were bivariately associated with age, smoking, body composition, Charlson comorbidity score, neutrophil blood count, creatinine, and C-reactive protein but were significantly elevated in patients with COPD, even after adjustment for confounders. Frequent exacerbations and hypoxemia was associated with higher levels of NGAL, whereas increasing Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease stage was associated with lower levels of NGAL among patients with COPD.

Conclusions: Plasma levels of NGAL were significantly higher in patients with COPD compared with control subjects. NGAL was related to important COPD characteristics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute-Phase Proteins
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Cell Count
  • Body Composition
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Lipocalin-2
  • Lipocalins / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / blood*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / blood*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects


  • Acute-Phase Proteins
  • Biomarkers
  • LCN2 protein, human
  • Lipocalin-2
  • Lipocalins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Creatinine