Laboratory biomarkers for lung disease severity and progression in cystic fibrosis

Clin Chim Acta. 2020 Sep;508:277-286. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2020.05.015. Epub 2020 May 16.


Although the clinical outcomes of cystic fibrosis (CF) have been markedly improved through the recent implementation of novel CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) modulator drugs, robust and reliable biomarkers are still demanded for the early detection of CF lung disease progression, monitoring treatment efficacy and predicting life-threatening clinical complications. Thus, there is an unmet need to identify and validate novel, ideally blood based biomarkers with strong correlations to the severity of CF lung disease, which represents a major contribution to overall CF morbidity and mortality. In this review, we aim to summarize the utility of thus far studied blood-, sputum- and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL)-based biomarkers to evaluate inflammatory conditions in the lung and to follow treatment efficacy in CF. Measurements of sweat chloride concentrations and the spirometric parameter FEV1 are currently utilized to monitor CFTR function and the effect of various CF therapies. Nonetheless, both have inherent pitfalls and limitations, thus routinely analyzed biomarkers in blood, sputum or BAL samples are required as surrogates for lung disorders. Recent discovery of new protein (e.g. HE4) and RNA-based biomarkers, such as microRNAs may offer a higher efficacy, which in aggregate may be valuable to evaluate disease prognosis and to substantiate CF drug efficacy.

Keywords: Biomarker; CRP; Cystic fibrosis; Drug efficacy; HE4; Inflammation; Pulmonary exacerbation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Cystic Fibrosis* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Laboratories
  • Lung
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Biomarkers