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Effect of oral N-acetylcysteine on COPD patients with microsatellite polymorphism in the heme oxygenase-1 gene promoter

Authors Zhang J, Zhang J, Fang L, Liu L, Fu W, Dai L

Received 5 July 2015

Accepted for publication 13 October 2015

Published 7 December 2015 Volume 2015:9 Pages 6379—6387


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Wei Duan

Jia-Qiang Zhang, Jian-Qing Zhang, Li-Zhou Fang, Ling Liu, Wei-Ping Fu, Lu-Ming Dai

The Second Department of Respiratory Medicine, The First Affiliated Hospital of Kunming Medical University, Kunming, People’s Republic of China

Background: Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) plays a protective role as an antioxidant in the lung, and HO-1 gene promoter polymorphism has been shown to be associated with the severity and prognosis of COPD patients. N-acetylcysteine (NAC), an antioxidant/mucous modifier, has shown an uncertain benefit in COPD patients. We hypothesized that this polymorphism could be associated with the effectiveness of oral NAC.
A total of 368 patients with COPD were recruited and the polymorphisms of their HO-1 gene promoter were classified into three subclasses according to the number of (GT)n repeats, as previously reported: class S (<27 (GT)n repeats), class M (27–32 (GT)n repeats), and class L (>32 (GT)n repeats). These subjects were then classified as L+ group (with the L allele: L/L, L/M, L/S) and L- group (without the L allele: M/M, M/S, S/S). All the patients were allocated to standard therapy plus NAC 600 mg bid over a 1-year period and were observed over that year.
The L- group saw improvements in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) (from 1.44±0.37 to 1.58±0.38, P=0.04) and FEV1% predicted (from 56.6±19.2 to 59.7±17.2, P=0.03). No improvement was found in forced vital capacity of each group and the decline of forced vital capacity in both of the groups was not statistical significant. The number of yearly COPD exacerbations of the L- group was 1.5±0.66 which was lower than the 2.1±0.53 of the L+ group (P<0.01). For the changes of St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) score, only the activity score of the L- group was more significant than that of the L+ group (P=0.02). The improvement of the outcome of 6-minute walking distance test in L- group (from 290.1±44.9 meters to 309.7±46.9 m) was higher than that in the L+ group (from 289.7±46.2 m to 300.3±44.2 m) (P=0.03).
Conclusion: A 600 mg bid oral NAC treatment for 1-year on COPD patients without the L allele can improve the FEV1, FEV1% predicted, the SGRQ activity score, and the result of 6-minute walking distance test, and the exacerbation rate of the L allele carrier in COPD patients is much higher than in the COPD patients without the L allele.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD prognosis, NAC treatment, gene therapy

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