A novel therapy for COPD involving the use of aerosolized hyaluronan (HA) was tested on a small cohort of COPD patients to determine both its safety and efficacy in reducing levels of desmosine and isodesmosine (DID), biomarkers for elastin degradation. In a 2-week, randomized, double-blind trial, 8 patients receiving 150 kDa HA (mean molecular weight) and 3 others given placebo did not show significant adverse effects with regard to spirometry, electrocardiograms, and hematological indices. Furthermore, measurements of DID in plasma from HA-treated patients indicated a progressive decrease over a 3-week period following initiation of treatment (r=-0.98; p=0.02), whereas patients receiving placebo showed no reduction in DID (r=-0.70; p=0.30). Measurements of sputum in the HA-treated group also revealed a progressive decrease in DID (r=-0.97; p=0.03), but this finding was limited by the absence of similar measurements in the placebo group. Nevertheless, the results of this small, pilot study support a longer-term trial of HA in a larger population of COPD patients.
Keywords: COPD; desmosine; elastin; hyaluronan.