Metabolomics profiling of tobacco exposure in children with cystic fibrosis

J Cyst Fibros. 2020 May 30;S1569-1993(20)30134-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jcf.2020.05.003. Online ahead of print.


Background: Inflammation is integral to early disease progression in children with CF. The effect of modifiable environmental factors on infection and inflammation in persons with CF is poorly understood. Our prior studies determined that secondhand smoke exposure (SHSe) is highly prevalent in young children with CF. SHSe is associated with increased inflammation, heightened bacterial burden, and worsened clinical outcomes. However, the specific metabolite and signaling pathways that regulate responses to SHSe in CF are relatively unknown.

Methods: High-resolution metabolomics was performed on plasma samples from infants (n = 25) and children (n = 40) with CF compared to non-CF controls (n = 15). CF groups were stratified according to infant or child age and SHSe status.

Results: Global metabolomic profiles segregated by age and SHSe status. SHSe in CF was associated with changes in pathways related to steroid biosynthesis, fatty acid metabolism, cysteine metabolism, and oxidative stress. CF infants with SHSe demonstrated enrichment for altered metabolite localization to the small intestine, liver, and striatum. CF children with SHSe demonstrated metabolite enrichment for organs/tissues associated with oxidative stress including mitochondria, peroxisomes, and the endoplasmic reticulum. In a confirmatory analysis, SHSe was associated with changes in biomarkers of oxidative stress and cellular adhesion including MMP-9, MPO, and ICAM-1.

Conclusions: SHSe in young children and infants with CF is associated with altered global metabolomics profiles and specific biochemical pathways, including enhanced oxidative stress. SHSe remains an important but understudied modifiable variable in early CF disease.

Keywords: Cystic fibrosis; Metabolites; Tobacco.