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Central airways remodeling in COPD patients

Authors Pini L, Pinelli V, Modina D, Bezzi M, Tiberio L, Tantucci C

Received 4 August 2013

Accepted for publication 25 December 2013

Published 1 September 2014 Volume 2014:9(1) Pages 927—933

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S52478

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 7

Laura Pini,1 Valentina Pinelli,2 Denise Modina,1 Michela Bezzi,3 Laura Tiberio,4 Claudio Tantucci1

1Unit of Respiratory Medicine, Department of Clinical and Experimental Sciences, University of Brescia, 2Department of Respiratory Medicine, Spedali Civili di Brescia, 3Department Bronchoscopy, Spedali Civili di Brescia, 4Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy

Background: The contribution to airflow obstruction by the remodeling of the peripheral airways in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients has been well documented, but less is known about the role played by the large airways. Few studies have investigated the presence of histopathological changes due to remodeling in the large airways of COPD patients.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to verify the presence of airway remodeling in the central airways of COPD patients, quantifying the airway smooth muscle (ASM) area and the extracellular matrix (ECM) protein deposition, both in the subepithelial region and in the ASM, and to verify the possible contribution to airflow obstruction by the above mentioned histopathological changes.
Methods: Biopsies of segmental bronchi spurs were performed in COPD patients and control smoker subjects and immunostained for collagen type I, versican, decorin, biglycan, and alpha-smooth muscle actin. ECM protein deposition was measured at both subepithelial, and ASM layers.
Results: The staining for collagen I and versican was greater in the subepithelial layer of COPD patients than in control subjects. An inverse correlation was found between collagen I in the subepithelial layer and both forced expiratory volume in 1 second and ratio between forced expiratory volume in 1 second and forced vital capacity. A statistically significant increase of the ASM area was observed in the central airways of COPD patients versus controls.
Conclusion: These findings indicate that airway remodeling also affects the large airways in COPD patients who have greater deposition of ECM proteins in the subepithelial layer and a larger smooth muscle area than control smoker subjects. These changes may contribute to chronic airflow obstruction in COPD patients.

Keywords: COPD, central airways, remodeling, airway smooth muscle, proteoglycans

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