Rationale: Little is known about gender differences in plasma biomarker levels in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Hypothesis: There are differences in serum biomarker levels between women and men with COPD.
Objective: Explore gender differences in plasma biomarker levels in patients with COPD and smokers without COPD.
Methods: We measured plasma levels of IL-6, IL-8, IL-16, MCP-1, MMP-9, PARC and VEGF in 80 smokers without COPD (40 males, 40 females) and 152 stable COPD patients (76 males, 76 females) with similar airflow obstruction. We determined anthropometrics, smoking history, lung function, exercise tolerance, body composition, BODE index, co-morbidities and quality of life. We then explored associations between plasma biomarkers levels and the clinical characteristics of the patients and also with the clinical and physiological variables known to predict outcome in COPD.
Results: The plasma biomarkers level explored were similar in men and women without COPD. In contrast, in patients with COPD the median value in pg/mL of IL-6 (6.26 vs 8.0, p = 0.03), IL-16 (390 vs 321, p = 0.009) and VEGF (50 vs 87, p = 0.02) differed between women and men. Adjusted for smoking history, gender was independently associated with IL-16, PARC and VEGF levels. There were also gender differences in the associations between IL-6, IL-16 and VEGF and physiologic variables that predict outcomes.
Conclusions: In stable COPD patients with similar airflow obstruction, there are gender differences in plasma biomarker levels and in the association between biomarker levels and important clinical or physiological variables. Further studies should confirm our findings.