Glycoprotein YKL-40 Levels in Plasma Are Associated with Fibrotic Changes on HRCT in Asbestos-Exposed Subjects

Mediators Inflamm. 2017:2017:1797512. doi: 10.1155/2017/1797512. Epub 2017 May 14.


YKL-40 is a chitinase-like glycoprotein produced by alternatively activated macrophages that are associated with wound healing and fibrosis. Asbestosis is a chronic asbestos-induced lung disease, in which injury of epithelial cells and activation of alveolar macrophages lead to enhanced collagen production and fibrosis. We studied if YKL-40 is related to inflammation, fibrosis, and/or lung function in subjects exposed to asbestosis. Venous blood samples were collected from 85 men with moderate or heavy occupational asbestos exposure and from 28 healthy, age-matched controls. Levels of plasma YKL-40, CRP, IL-6, adipsin, and MMP-9 were measured with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Plasma YKL-40 levels were significantly higher in subjects with asbestosis (n = 19) than in those with no fibrotic findings in HRCT following asbestos exposure (n = 66) or in unexposed healthy controls. In asbestos-exposed subjects, plasma YKL-40 correlated negatively with lung function capacity parameters FVC (Pearson's r -0.259, p = 0.018) and FEV1 (Pearson's r -0.240, p = 0.028) and positively with CRP (Spearman's rho 0.371, p < 0.001), IL-6 (Spearman's rho 0.314, p = 0.003), adipsin (Spearman's rho 0.459, p < 0.001), and MMP-9 (Spearman's rho 0.243, p = 0.025). The present finding suggests YKL-40 as a biomarker associated with fibrosis and inflammation in asbestos-exposed subjects.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Asbestos / toxicity*
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Chitinase-3-Like Protein 1 / blood*
  • Complement Factor D / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Male
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / blood
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / chemically induced
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / diagnostic imaging


  • CHI3L1 protein, human
  • Chitinase-3-Like Protein 1
  • Interleukin-6
  • Asbestos
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Complement Factor D
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9