Urinary desmosine is associated with emphysema severity and frequent exacerbation in patients with COPD

Respirology. 2018 Feb;23(2):176-181. doi: 10.1111/resp.13170. Epub 2017 Sep 14.


Background and objective: Matrix degradation is a key feature of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Desmosine and isodesmosine (desmosines) are excreted in urine following matrix degradation. The main purpose of this study was to investigate the association between computed tomography (CT) emphysema indices and urinary desmosines in patients with COPD.

Methods: A total of 152 subjects were selected from the Korean Obstructive Lung Disease cohort. Their urine samples were assayed for desmosines using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) methods. The cohort was divided into emphysema-dominant (n = 80) and non-emphysema dominant- (n = 72) groups according to the CT emphysema index.

Results: The level of urinary desmosines was significantly higher in the emphysema-dominant group. Significant differences were also observed between the two groups for body mass index and lung function. Multivariate analysis indicated that a high level of urinary desmosines was a significant independent predictor of emphysema (relative risk: 2.6; 95% CI: 1.11-6.09; P = 0.028). The percentage of frequent exacerbators was significantly higher in the high urinary desmosine group in the first year of follow-up (P = 0.041). The mean number of exacerbations was higher in the high urinary desmosine group, although this difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.067). The changes in emphysema index did not differ between the two urinary desmosine groups over 3 years of follow-up.

Conclusion: This study indicates that the level of urinary desmosines measured by LC-MS/MS methods is associated with the CT emphysema index. Urinary desmosine can be a useful predictor in identifying frequent exacerbators.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema; mass spectrometry; urinary desmosines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Cohort Studies
  • Desmosine / urine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isodesmosine / urine*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / urine*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / etiology
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / urine*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Biomarkers
  • Desmosine
  • Isodesmosine