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COPD linked to increased bacterial invasion

Date:
April 27, 2016
Source:
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Summary:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common smoking-related lung illness and the third leading cause of death in the United States. Scientists have long believed that inhaling toxic gases and particles from tobacco smoke causes inflammation of the small airways in the lungs, leading to the development of COPD. However, the theory doesn't explain why airway inflammation and disease progression continue even after the patient stops smoking. A new study shows that persistent inflammation in COPD may result from a defect in the immune system that allows airway bacteria to invade deeper into the lung.
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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common smoking-related lung illness and the third leading cause of death in the United States. Scientists have long believed that inhaling toxic gases and particles from tobacco smoke causes inflammation of the small airways in the lungs, leading to the development of COPD. However, the theory doesn't explain why airway inflammation and disease progression continue even after the patient stops smoking.

Now a study led by Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) investigators finds that persistent inflammation in COPD may result from a defect in the immune system that allows airway bacteria to invade deeper into the lung. The research led by first author Bradley Richmond, M.D., instructor in the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care, and senior authors Timothy Blackwell, M.D. and Vasiliy Polosukhin, M.D., Ph.D. was published online April 5, 2016 in Nature Communications.

The investigators were interested in the function of the body's mucus membranes like those found in the nose and the lining of the lungs. Mucosal surfaces normally have an elaborate barrier that prevents bacteria from invading into deeper tissues. Having previously shown that patients with COPD often lack a key component of this barrier called secretory immunoglobulin A (secretory IgA), the investigators studied mice lacking secretory IgA. While these mice appeared healthy at birth, as they aged they developed increased bacterial invasion, chronic inflammation, and damage in the lungs similar to patients with COPD. These changes occurred without cigarette smoke or other exposures."These findings suggest that over time changes in the airways resulting from cigarette smoke exposure make the lungs more susceptible to bacterial invasion. This may explain why inflammation persists in COPD even after patients stop smoking," said Richmond.

Treatment with the anti-inflammatory drug roflumilast halted lung damage in secretory IgA-deficient mice, suggesting a possible future therapy for patients with COPD and decreased secretory IgA in small airways.


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Materials provided by Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bradley W. Richmond, Robert M. Brucker, Wei Han, Rui-Hong Du, Yongqin Zhang, Dong-Sheng Cheng, Linda Gleaves, Rasul Abdolrasulnia, Dina Polosukhina, Peter E. Clark, Seth R. Bordenstein, Timothy S. Blackwell, Vasiliy V. Polosukhin. Airway bacteria drive a progressive COPD-like phenotype in mice with polymeric immunoglobulin receptor deficiency. Nature Communications, 2016; 7: 11240 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms11240

Cite This Page:

Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "COPD linked to increased bacterial invasion." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160427151016.htm>.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center. (2016, April 27). COPD linked to increased bacterial invasion. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 27, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160427151016.htm
Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "COPD linked to increased bacterial invasion." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160427151016.htm (accessed May 27, 2017).

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