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Reticular basement membrane in asthma and COPD: Similar thickness, yet different composition

Authors Liesker J, ten Hacken N, Zeinstra-Smith M, Rutgers S, Postma D, Timens W

Published 26 February 2009 Volume 2009:4 Pages 127—135

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S4639

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4


Jeroen JW Liesker1, Nick H Ten Hacken1, Mieke Zeinstra-Smith2, Steven R Rutgers1, Dirkje S Postma1, Wim Timens2

1Department of Pulmonology; 2Department of Pathology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Background: Reticular basement membrane (RBM) thickening has been variably associated with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Even if RBM thickness is similar in both diseases, its composition might still differ.

Objective: To assess whether RBM thickness and composition differ between asthma and COPD.

Methods: We investigated 24 allergic asthmatics (forced expiratory volume in one second [FEV1] 92% predicted), and 17 nonallergic COPD patients (FEV1 60% predicted), and for each group a control group of similar age and smoking habits (12 and 10 persons, respectively). Snap-frozen sections of bronchial biopsies were stained with hematoxylin/eosin and for collagen I, III, IV, V, laminin and tenascin. RBM thickening was assessed by digital image analysis. Relative staining intensity of each matrix component was determined.

Results: Mean (SD) RBM thickness was not significantly different between asthma and COPD 5.5 (1.3) vs 6.0 (1.8) μm, but significantly larger than in their healthy counterparts, ie, 4.7 (0.9) and 4.8 (1.2) μm, respectively. Collagen I and laminin stained significantly stronger in asthma than in COPD. Tenascin stained stronger in asthma than in healthy controls of similar age, and stronger in COPD controls than in asthma controls (p 0.05).

Conclusion: RBM thickening occurs both in asthma and COPD. We provide supportive evidence that its composition differs in asthma and COPD.

Keywords: reticular basement membrane thickness, reticular basement membrane composition, asthma, biopsy, COPD, remodeling

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