Increased platelet and erythrocyte arginase activity in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease associated with tobacco or wood smoke exposure

J Investig Med. 2011 Mar;59(3):587-92. doi: 10.2310/JIM.0b013e31820bf475.


Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an inflammatory disease that is characterized by a progressive and irreversible decline in lung function and is caused primarily by chronic exposure to tobacco and to wood smoke. It is linked to oxidative stress and to an up-regulation of airway arginases and is also associated with alterations in platelets and erythrocytes. In the present study, arginase activity was studied in platelets and erythrocytes of 2 groups of COPD patients: 31 tobacco ex-smokers and 27 patients who had been exposed to wood smoke. A total of 15 healthy controls were also included.

Methods: Plasma, platelets, and erythrocytes were obtained from the blood samples. Levels of the oxidative stress biomarkers, carbonyls and malondialdehyde, were measured in the plasma, and arginase activity was quantified in platelets and erythrocytes.

Results: In both groups of COPD patients, an increase in the oxidative stress biomarkers was found. Platelet arginase activity in both COPD groups was 2-fold higher than that in the control group. In the erythrocytes, the arginase activity increased 1.7-fold over the control only in the wood smoke-induced COPD group.

Discussion and conclusions: These results suggest that the increase in arginase activity in platelets and erythrocytes participates in the alteration in nitric oxide metabolism in COPD patients and that there may be some differences between the tobacco smoke- and wood smoke-induced COPD.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arginase / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Blood Platelets / enzymology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Enzyme Activation / physiology
  • Erythrocytes / enzymology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / enzymology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / etiology
  • Smoke / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / metabolism*
  • Wood


  • Biomarkers
  • Smoke
  • Arginase