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Journal: Respiratory research


Electronic cigarettes (ECs) are battery-operated devices designed to vaporise nicotine, which may help smokers quitting or reducing their tobacco consumption. There is a lack of data on the health effects of EC use among smokers with COPD and whether regular use results in improvement in subjective and objective COPD outcomes. We investigated long-term changes in objective and subjective respiratory outcomes in smokers with a diagnosis of COPD who quit or reduced substantially their tobacco consumption by supplementing with or converting only to ECs use.

Concepts: Redox, Smoking, Tobacco, Cigarette, Nicotine, Electronic cigarette


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


BACKGROUND: Statins are lipid-lowering agents that also exhibit pleiotropic effects in decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation. There have been several published studies reporting the use of statins in the treatment of asthma patients, but their results are not consistent. The aim of this study is to determine whether statins are beneficial for asthma administration, and explore the potential covariables that may affect their clinical effectiveness. METHODS: A systematic literature search was performed in PubMed, Embase and Cochrane Center Register of Controlled Trials from inception to September 2012. Randomized controlled trial (RCT), retrospective study and controlled clinical trial which reported the use of statins in the treatment of asthma patients were eligible. Quality evaluation was conducted for RCT using Jadad criteria. RESULTS: A total of 18 articles were included. In our study, we found no conclusive evidence to demonstrate that statins could enhance the lung function in asthmatics, although, they may reduce airway inflammation. Additionally, the results were not consistent in different studies with respect to symptoms, quality of life, maintenance medication, asthma hospitalization/emergency department (ED) visits. CONCLUSIONS: Statins may reduce airway inflammation in asthmatics, without having a significant effect on lung function. Further large sample and multicenter clinical trials are needed to confirm this and to see if there are more responsive phenotypes of asthma.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Asthma, Randomized controlled trial, Effectiveness, Pharmaceutical industry, Clinical research


BACKGROUND: Stress of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) leading to activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) and alveolar epithelial cell (AEC) apoptosis may play a role in the pathogenesis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Our objectives were to determine whether circulating caspase-cleaved cytokeratin-18 (cCK-18) is a marker of AEC apoptosis in IPF, define the relationship of cCK-18 with activation of the UPR, and assess its utility as a diagnostic biomarker. METHODS: IPF and normal lung tissues were stained with the antibody (M30) that specifically binds cCK-18. The relationship between markers of the UPR and cCK-18 was determined in AECs exposed in vitro to thapsigargin to induce ER stress. cCK-18 was measured in serum from subjects with IPF, hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), nonspecific interstitial pneumonia (NSIP), and control subjects. RESULTS: cCK-18 immunoreactivity was present in AECs of IPF lung, but not in control subjects. Markers of the UPR (phosphorylated IRE-1alpha and spliced XBP-1) were more highly expressed in IPF type II AECs than in normal type II AECs. Phosphorylated IRE-1alpha and cCK-18 increased following thapsigargin-induced ER stress. Serum cCK-18 level distinguished IPF from diseased and control subjects. Serum cCK-18 was not associated with disease severity or outcome. CONCLUSIONS: cCK-18 may be a marker of AEC apoptosis and UPR activation in patients with IPF. Circulating levels of cCK-18 are increased in patients with IPF and cCK-18 may be a useful diagnostic biomarker.

Concepts: Immune system, Pulmonology, Lung, Endoplasmic reticulum, Epithelium, Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Pulmonary fibrosis, Unfolded protein response


BACKGROUND: Individuals with deficiencies of pulmonary surfactant protein C (SP-C) develop interstitial lung disease (ILD) that is exacerbated by viral infections including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). SP-C gene targeted mice (Sftpc -/-) lack SP-C, develop an ILD-like disease and are susceptible to infection with RSV. METHODS: In order to determine requirements for correction of RSV induced injury we have generated compound transgenic mice where SP-C expression can be induced on the Sftpc -/- background (SP-C/Sftpc -/-) by the administration of doxycycline (dox). The pattern of induced SP-C expression was determined by immunohistochemistry and processing by Western blot analysis. Tissue and cellular inflammation was measured following RSV infection and the RSV-induced cytokine response of isolated Sftpc +/+ and -/- type II cells determined. RESULTS: After 5 days of dox administration transgene SP-C mRNA expression was detected by RT-PCR in the lungs of two independent lines of bitransgenic SP-C/Sftpc -/- mice (lines 55.3 and 54.2). ProSP-C was expressed in the lung, and mature SP-C was detected by Western blot analysis of the lavage fluid from both lines of SP-C/Sftpc -/- mice. Induced SP-C expression was localized to alveolar type II cells by immunostaining with an antibody to proSP-C. Line 55.3 SP-C/Sftpc -/- mice were maintained on or off dox for 7 days and infected with 2.6x107 RSV pfu. On day 3 post RSV infection total inflammatory cell counts were reduced in the lavage of dox treated 55.3 SP-C/Sftpc -/- mice (p = 0.004). The percentage of neutrophils was reduced (p = 0.05). The viral titers of lung homogenates from dox treated 55.3 SP-C/Sftpc -/- mice were decreased relative to 55.3 SP-C/Sftpc -/- mice without dox (p = 0.01). The cytokine response of Sftpc -/- type II cells to RSV was increased over that of Sftpc +/+ cells. CONCLUSIONS: Transgenic restoration of SP-C reduced inflammation and improved viral clearance in the lungs of SP-C deficient mice. The loss of SP-C in alveolar type II cells compromises their response to infection. These findings show that the restoration of SP-C in Sftpc -/- mice in response to RSV infection is a useful model to determine parameters for therapeutic intervention.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Gene, Gene expression, Molecular biology, Pulmonology, Infection, Human respiratory syncytial virus


The objective of this prospective study was to assess the prevalence of anxiety and depression disorders and their association with quality of life (QoL), clinical parameters and survival in patients with pulmonary hypertension (PH).

Concepts: Pulmonology, Myocardial infarction, Coronary artery disease, Cardiology, Blood pressure, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Pulmonary artery, Pulmonary hypertension


In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), two major pathological changes that occur are the loss of alveolar structure and airspace enlargement. To treat COPD, it is crucial to repair damaged lung tissue and regenerate the lost alveoli. Type II alveolar epithelial cells (AECII) play a vital role in maintaining lung tissue repair, and amniotic fluid-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (AFMSCs) possess the characteristics of regular mesenchymal stromal cells. However, it remains untested whether transplantation of rat AFMSCs (rAFMSCs) might alleviate lung injury caused by emphysema by increasing the expression of surfactant protein (SP)A and SPC and inhibiting AECII apoptosis.

Concepts: Cancer, Asthma, Lung, Pneumonia, Mesenchymal stem cell, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Emphysema, Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency


We designed a crossover and placebo-controlled trial to investigate the impact of a 1-h acute vaping session of nicotine-free and flavour-free e-liquid on the pulmonary functions and respiratory mechanics of healthy and asthmatic individuals. This study shows that a 1-h vaping session of a high-grade and contaminant-free mixture of propylene glycol and glycerol using a commercially available electronic cigarette performed in a controlled environment does not significantly impact pulmonary functions, respiratory mechanics or symptoms in healthy or asthmatic subjects.

Concepts: Pulmonology, Asthma, Lung, Electronic cigarette, Mucus, Ethylene glycol, Propylene glycol, Glycerol


Due to their similarity to tobacco cigarettes, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) could play an important role in tobacco harm reduction. However, the public health community remains divided concerning the appropriateness of endorsing a device whose safety and efficacy for smoking cessation remain unclear. We identified the major ethical considerations surrounding the use of e-cigarettes for tobacco harm reduction, including product safety, efficacy for smoking cessation and reduction, use among non-smokers, use among youth, marketing and advertisement, use in public places, renormalization of a smoking culture, and market ownership. Overall, the safety profile of e-cigarettes is unlikely to warrant serious public health concerns, particularly given the known adverse health effects associated with tobacco cigarettes. As a result, it is unlikely that the population-level harms resulting from e-cigarette uptake among non-smokers would overshadow the public health gains obtained from tobacco harm reduction among current smokers. While the existence of a gateway effect for youth remains uncertain, e-cigarette use in this population should be discouraged. Similarly, marketing and advertisement should remain aligned with the degree of known product risk and should be targeted to current smokers. Overall, the available evidence supports the cautionary implementation of harm reduction interventions aimed at promoting e-cigarettes as attractive and competitive alternatives to cigarette smoking, while taking measures to protect vulnerable groups and individuals.

Concepts: Public health, Smoking, Tobacco, Tobacco smoking, Cigarette, Nicotine, Cigar, Electronic cigarette


The use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) is increasing and there is widespread perception that e-cigs are safe. E-cigs contain harmful chemicals; more research is needed to evaluate the safety of e-cig use. Our aim was to investigate the effects of e-cigs on the inflammatory response of human neutrophils.

Concepts: Cigarette