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Indices of iron homeostasis correlate with airway obstruction in an NHANES III cohort

Authors Ghio AJ, Hilborn ED

Received 31 March 2017

Accepted for publication 19 June 2017

Published 18 July 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 2075—2084


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Andrew J Ghio, Elizabeth D Hilborn

Environmental Public Health Division, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

Abstract: Cigarette smoking results in the accumulation of iron both systemically and locally, in the lung thereby causing imbalance in iron homeostasis. This disruption in iron homeostasis can be associated with oxidative stress and consequent tissue injury. Therefore, in this study, we tested the association between iron homeostasis and airway obstruction by examining a large cohort of smokers and non-smokers for relationships between 1) serum ferritin and iron concentrations and transferrin saturation and 2) forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), and their ratio (FEV1/FVC). Data from the National Health and Examination Survey III were analyzed. The study population included persons aged 20 years and above with their following data recorded: race, gender, serum ferritin and iron concentrations, and transferrin saturation; the final sample number was 7,251. In the total population, Pearson correlation coefficients between 1) serum ferritin and iron concentrations and transferrin saturation and 2) FVC and FEV1 were significantly positive; whereas those between 1) serum ferritin concentrations and transferrin saturation and 2) FEV1/FVC were significantly negative. With separate analyses, serum ferritin concentrations demonstrated positive associations with FVC and FEV1 but an inverse relationship with FEV1/FVC in smokers and non-smokers. Serum ferritin levels increased with worsening airway obstruction among smokers, and its highest concentrations were found among those with the lowest values of FEV1/FVC ratio (<60%). Comparable to cigarette smokers, serum ferritin concentrations among non-smokers were greatest in those with the lowest FEV1/FVC ratio. Furthermore, elevated levels of serum iron and saturation of transferrin also corresponded with decreased FEV1/FVC ratio among non-smokers. Thus, we conclude that indices of iron homeostasis are associated with airway obstruction in both smokers and non-smokers.

Keywords: iron, ferritins, respiratory function tests, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, spirometry, vital capacity, forced expiratory volume

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