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Concept: Pulmonology


Background Bronchoscopy is frequently nondiagnostic in patients with pulmonary lesions suspected to be lung cancer. This often results in additional invasive testing, although many lesions are benign. We sought to validate a bronchial-airway gene-expression classifier that could improve the diagnostic performance of bronchoscopy. Methods Current or former smokers undergoing bronchoscopy for suspected lung cancer were enrolled at 28 centers in two multicenter prospective studies (AEGIS-1 and AEGIS-2). A gene-expression classifier was measured in epithelial cells collected from the normal-appearing mainstem bronchus to assess the probability of lung cancer. Results A total of 639 patients in AEGIS-1 (298 patients) and AEGIS-2 (341 patients) met the criteria for inclusion. A total of 43% of bronchoscopic examinations were nondiagnostic for lung cancer, and invasive procedures were performed after bronchoscopy in 35% of patients with benign lesions. In AEGIS-1, the classifier had an area under the receiver-operating-characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.78 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.73 to 0.83), a sensitivity of 88% (95% CI, 83 to 92), and a specificity of 47% (95% CI, 37 to 58). In AEGIS-2, the classifier had an AUC of 0.74 (95% CI, 0.68 to 0.80), a sensitivity of 89% (95% CI, 84 to 92), and a specificity of 47% (95% CI, 36 to 59). The combination of the classifier plus bronchoscopy had a sensitivity of 96% (95% CI, 93 to 98) in AEGIS-1 and 98% (95% CI, 96 to 99) in AEGIS-2, independent of lesion size and location. In 101 patients with an intermediate pretest probability of cancer, the negative predictive value of the classifier was 91% (95% CI, 75 to 98) among patients with a nondiagnostic bronchoscopic examination. Conclusions The gene-expression classifier improved the diagnostic performance of bronchoscopy for the detection of lung cancer. In intermediate-risk patients with a nondiagnostic bronchoscopic examination, a negative classifier score provides support for a more conservative diagnostic approach. (Funded by Allegro Diagnostics and others; AEGIS-1 and AEGIS-2 numbers, NCT01309087 and NCT00746759 .).

Concepts: Pulmonology, Lung, Lung cancer, Positive predictive value, Negative predictive value, Sensitivity and specificity, Carcinoma, Lesion


Background Previous trials suggesting that high-frequency oscillatory ventilation (HFOV) reduced mortality among adults with the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) were limited by the use of outdated comparator ventilation strategies and small sample sizes. Methods In a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial conducted at 39 intensive care units in five countries, we randomly assigned adults with new-onset, moderate-to-severe ARDS to HFOV targeting lung recruitment or to a control ventilation strategy targeting lung recruitment with the use of low tidal volumes and high positive end-expiratory pressure. The primary outcome was the rate of in-hospital death from any cause. Results On the recommendation of the data monitoring committee, we stopped the trial after 548 of a planned 1200 patients had undergone randomization. The two study groups were well matched at baseline. The HFOV group underwent HFOV for a median of 3 days (interquartile range, 2 to 8); in addition, 34 of 273 patients (12%) in the control group received HFOV for refractory hypoxemia. In-hospital mortality was 47% in the HFOV group, as compared with 35% in the control group (relative risk of death with HFOV, 1.33; 95% confidence interval, 1.09 to 1.64; P=0.005). This finding was independent of baseline abnormalities in oxygenation or respiratory compliance. Patients in the HFOV group received higher doses of midazolam than did patients in the control group (199 mg per day [interquartile range, 100 to 382] vs. 141 mg per day [interquartile range, 68 to 240], P<0.001), and more patients in the HFOV group than in the control group received neuromuscular blockers (83% vs. 68%, P<0.001). In addition, more patients in the HFOV group received vasoactive drugs (91% vs. 84%, P=0.01) and received them for a longer period than did patients in the control group (5 days vs. 3 days, P=0.01). Conclusions In adults with moderate-to-severe ARDS, early application of HFOV, as compared with a ventilation strategy of low tidal volume and high positive end-expiratory pressure, does not reduce, and may increase, in-hospital mortality. (Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Current Controlled Trials numbers, ISRCTN42992782 and ISRCTN87124254 , and numbers, NCT00474656 and NCT01506401 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Pulmonology, Sample size, Medical statistics, Intensive care medicine, Acute respiratory distress syndrome, Mechanical ventilation, Pulmonary contusion


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is characterized by high morbidity and mortality. It remains unknown which aspect of lung function carries the most prognostic information and if simple spirometry is sufficient.Survival was assessed in COPD outpatients whose data had been added prospectively to a clinical audit database from the point of first full lung function testing including spirometry, lung volumes, carbon monoxide diffusion capacity and arterial blood gases. Variables univariately associated with survival were entered into a multivariate Cox proportional hazard model.604 patients were included (mean age 61.9±9.7 years, forced expiratory volume in 1 second 37±18.1%predicted, 62.9% males); 229(37.9%) died during a median follow-up of 83 months. Median survival was 91.9(80.8-103) months with survival rates at 3 and 5 years 0.83 and 0.66, respectively. Carbon monoxide diffusion capacity %predicted quartiles [(best quartile (>51%): HR=: 0.33; 95% CI: 0.96-0. and second quartile (51-37.3%): HR=0.52, versus lowest quartile (<27.9%))], age (HR=:1.04; 95% CI:1.02-1.06) and arterial oxygen partial pressure (HR=: 0.85;95% CI:0.77-0.94) were the only parameters independently associated with mortality.Measurement of diffusion capacity provides additional prognostic information compared to spirometry in patients under hospital follow-up and could be considered routinely.

Concepts: Oxygen, Pulmonology, Asthma, Lung, Respiratory physiology, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Spirometry, Respiratory therapy


The presence of acute or chronic respiratory failure is often seen as a terminal phase of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A great variability in end-of-life practice is observed in these patients mainly because physicians are not always able to correctly predict survival. There is a need for a clear discussion about decision making earlier than when acute respiratory failure ensues. Indeed, a perceived poor quality of life does not necessarily correlate with a clear willingness to refuse invasive or noninvasive mechanical ventilation. It has been suggested to start palliative care earlier, together with curative and restorative care, when there is an increased intensity of symptoms. The patients eligible for palliative care are those complaining of breathlessness, pain, fatigue and depression, which in some studies accounted for a prevalence much higher than 50%. Among comfort measures for palliation, oxygen is frequently prescribed even when the criteria for long-term home oxygen therapy are not met; however, when compared with air, no benefits on dyspnoea have been found. The only drug with a proven effect on dyspnoea is morphine, but not when it is delivered with a nebuliser. Finally, noninvasive ventilation may be used only as a comfort measure for palliation to maximise comfort by minimising adverse effects.

Concepts: Pulmonology, Pneumonia, Mechanical ventilation, Palliative care, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Palliative medicine, End-of-life care, Terminal sedation


Pre-clinical data demonstrate a pivotal role for interleukin (IL)-13 in the development and maintenance of asthma. This study assessed the effects of tralokinumab, an investigational human IL-13-neutralising immunoglobulin G4 monoclonal antibody, in adults with moderate-to-severe uncontrolled asthma despite controller therapies. 194 subjects were randomised to receive tralokinumab (150, 300 or 600 mg) or placebo subcutaneously every 2 weeks. Primary end-point was change from baseline in mean Asthma Control Questionnaire score (ACQ-6; ACQ mean of six individual item scores) at week 13 comparing placebo and combined tralokinumab dose groups. Secondary end-points included pre-bronchodilator lung function, rescue β(2)-agonist use and safety. Numerical end-points are reported as mean±sd. At week 13, change from baseline in ACQ-6 was -0.76±1.04 for tralokinumab versus -0.61±0.90 for placebo (p=0.375). Increases from baseline in forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV(1)) were 0.21±0.38 L versus 0.06±0.48 L (p=0.072), with a dose-response observed across the tralokinumab doses tested. β(2)-agonist use (puffs per day) was decreased for tralokinumab -0.68±1.45 versus placebo -0.10±1.49 (p=0.020). The increase in FEV(1) following tralokinumab treatment remained evident 12 weeks after the final dose. Safety profile was acceptable with no serious adverse events related to tralokinumab. No improvement in ACQ-6 was observed, although tralokinumab treatment was associated with improved lung function.

Concepts: Immune system, Pulmonology, Asthma, Lung, Respiratory physiology, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Spirometry, Peak flow meter


BACKGROUND: Preoperative extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a risk factor for poor outcome and currently considered a contraindication to lung transplantation. The lung allocation score system was introduced in May 2005 and prioritizes lung allocation to those with the greatest respiratory impairment. The purpose of this study is to determine whether ECMO as a bridge to lung transplantation is an acceptable option to support those in respiratory failure until donor lungs become available in the lung allocation score era. METHOD: A retrospective review of 715 consecutive lung transplants performed between May 2005 and September 2011 was conducted using a prospectively collected institutional registry database. Twenty-four lung transplants (3.4%) were performed in the 31 patients with attempted pretransplant ECMO; 7 patients who received ECMO patients did not survive or were deemed unfit for transplantation. These patients were compared with a control group of 691 patients who did not receive pretransplant ECMO. RESULTS: The duration of pretransplant ECMO was 171 ± 242 hours (median, 91 hours). Venovenous ECMO was used for respiratory failure in 15 patients, whereas venoarterial ECMO was used for circulatory collapse due to pulmonary hypertension in 9 patients. Patients in the retransplant ECMO group were younger (46 ± 15 years vs 57 ± 14 years, P < .01) compared with the control group, with no difference in recipient gender (male/female: 10/14 vs 380/311), donor age (33 ± 14 years vs 36 ± 15 years), or donor gender (male/female: 10/14 vs 352/339). Emphysema was less common (1, 4% vs 260, 38%, P < .01), and cystic fibrosis (5, 21% vs 72, 10%, P = .09), redo lung transplant (3, 13% vs 28, 4%, P = .08), and bronchiectasis (2, 8% vs 6, 1%, P = .03) were more common in the pretransplant ECMO group. Patients in the pretransplant ECMO group had a significantly higher lung allocation score (87 ± 9 vs 44 ± 15, P < .01). All patients in the pretransplant ECMO group underwent double lung transplants on pump (cardiopulmonary bypass/ECMO), and single lung transplants were performed in 171 patients (25%) and pump was used in 243 patients (35%) in the control group. The cardiopulmonary bypass time was longer in the pretransplant ECMO group (277 ± 69 minutes vs 225 ± 89 minutes, P = .02), with no difference in ischemic time (343 ± 93 minutes vs 330 ± 98 minutes, P = .54). Cadaveric lobar lung transplants were performed because of the urgency to overcome size mismatch with an oversized donor more frequently in 25% (n = 6, no mortality with the longest follow-up at 6 years) of patients in the pretransplant ECMO group versus 0.3% (n = 2) of patients in the control group (P < .01). Post-transplant ECMO was used for primary graft dysfunction in 13 patients (54%) in the pretransplant ECMO group and 41 patients (6%) in the control group (P < .01). The median hospital stay was 46 days in the pretransplant ECMO group versus 27 days in the control group (P = .16). The actuarial survivals after lung transplants at 1, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months were 96%, 88%, 83%, 74%, and 74%, respectively, in the pretransplant ECMO group, and 97%, 94%, 90%, 83%, and 74%, respectively, in the control group (P = .787). CONCLUSIONS: Although the incidence of primary graft dysfunction requiring post-transplant ECMO is higher and the hospital stay is longer in patients receiving pretransplant ECMO, the graft survival is good (2-year survival, 74%). ECMO is efficacious as a bridge to lung transplantation with good post-lung transplant outcomes.

Concepts: Pulmonology, Cystic fibrosis, Organ transplant, Pulmonary hypertension, Lung transplantation, Extracorporeal, Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, Lung allocation score


BACKGROUND: Environmental pollution is a known risk factor for multiple diseases and furthermore increases rate of hospitalisations. We investigated the correlation between emergency room admissions (ERAs) of the general population for respiratory diseases and the environmental pollutant levels in Milan, a metropolis in northern Italy. METHODS: We collected data from 45770 ERAs for respiratory diseases. A time-stratified case-crossover design was used to investigate the association between air pollution levels and ERAs for acute respiratory conditions. The effects of air pollutants were investigated at lag 0 to lag 5, lag 0–2 and lag 3–5 in both single and multi-pollutant models, adjusted for daily weather variables. RESULTS: An increase in ozone (O3) levels at lag 3–5 was associated with a 78% increase in the number of ERAs for asthma, especially during the warm season. Exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) proved to be a risk factor for pneumonia at lag 0–2 and in the warm season increased the risk of ERA by 66%. A significant association was found between ERAs for COPD exacerbation and levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2), CO, nitrate dioxide (NO2), and particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5). The multipollutant model that includes all pollutants showed a significant association between CO (26%) and ERA for upper respiratory tract diseases at lag 0–2. For chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations, only CO (OR 1.19) showed a significant association. CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to environmental pollution, even at typical low levels, can increase the risk of ERA for acute respiratory diseases and exacerbation of obstructive lung diseases in the general population.

Concepts: Pulmonology, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Respiratory system, Pollution, Particulate, Smog, Air pollution, Acid rain


Acute lung function (LF) changes might predict an accelerated decline in LF. In this study, we investigated the association between cross-shift and longitudinal changes in forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV(1)) among woodworkers in a 6-year follow-up study.

Concepts: Pulmonology, Asthma, Lung, Respiratory physiology, The Association, Spirometry, Wood


The nitric oxide (NO)-soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC)-cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) signal-transduction pathway is impaired in many cardiovascular diseases, including pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Riociguat (BAY 63-2521) is a stimulator of sGC that works both in synergy with and independently of NO to increase levels of cGMP. The aims of this study were to investigate the role of NO-sGC-cGMP signaling in a model of severe PAH and to evaluate the effects of sGC stimulation by riociguat and PDE5 inhibition by sildenafil on pulmonary hemodynamics and vascular remodeling in severe experimental PAH.

Concepts: Pulmonology, Myocardial infarction, Pulmonary artery, Nitric oxide, Pulmonary hypertension, Guanylate cyclase, Sildenafil, Riociguat


Bronchoscopy is often the initial diagnostic procedure performed in patients with pulmonary lesions suspicious for lung cancer. A bronchial genomic classifier was previously validated to identify patients at low risk for lung cancer after an inconclusive bronchoscopy. In this study, we evaluate the potential of the classifier to reduce invasive procedure utilization in patients with suspected lung cancer.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Pulmonology, Lung cancer, Cancer staging, Pneumonia, Bronchoscopy, Alveolar duct