Inter-relationships between inflammatory markers in patients with stable COPD with bronchitis: intra-patient and inter-patient variability

Sapey, E.; Bayley, D.; Ahmad, A.; Newbold, P.; Snell, N.; Stockley, R. A.
June 2008
Thorax;Jun2008, Vol. 63 Issue 6, p493
Academic Journal
Background: Measurements of pulmonary biomarkers can be used to monitor airway inflammation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease )CUPD), but the variability of sampled biomarkers and their inter-relationships are poorly understood. A study was undertaken to examine the intra- and inter-patient variability in spontaneous sputum samples from patients in the stable state and to describe the relationship between biomarkers, cell counts and markers of disease. Methods: Sputum interleukin-1β, tumour necrosis factor α, interleukin 8, myeloperoxidase, leucotriene B4, growth- related oncogene α and differential cell counts were measured in patients with moderate to severe stable COPD (n = 14) on 11 occasions over a 1-month period. Results: There was significant variability in all inflammatory indices (median intra-patient coefficient of variation (CV) 35% )lQR 22-69), median inter-patient CV 102% (IQR 61-1 45)). Variability could be reduced by using a rolling mean of individual patient data points. Sample size calculations were undertaken to determine the number of patients required to detect a 50% reduction in neutrophil count. Using a crossover design of a putative effective treatment, the number needed using one data point per patient was 72, reducing to 23 when a mean of three data points was used. Significant correlations were demonstrated both between the inflammatory biomarkers themselves and between inflammatory biomarkers and markers of disease. Some relationships were not apparent when results from a single sample were used. The reliability of inter-relationships improved as more data points were used for each patient. Conclusions: Clear relationships exist between inflammatory biomarkers in patients with stable COPD. Sequential sampling reduced the variability of individual mediators and the potential number of patients needed to power proof of concept interventional studies.


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