Evidence of Autoimmune Process in Evolution of COPD

Higher titers of anti-tissue antibody associated with airflow limitation, gas exchange defects

MONDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- The presence of two types of circulating autoantibodies in one-fourth to one-third of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients suggests that autoimmunity may play a role in the pathogenesis of the disease, according to research published online Nov. 19 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Belén Núñez, of the Hospital Universitari Son Dureta in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and colleagues conducted a study of 328 patients with clinically stable COPD and 67 healthy controls, assessing lung function and serum titers of anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA) and anti-tissue antibodies (AT). The researchers aimed to determine the prevalence of these antibodies in COPD, as well as their potential relationship with aspects of the disease.

The prevalence of both ANA and AT was found to be higher in COPD patients than in controls (34 versus 3 percent and 26 versus 6 percent, respectively). High titers of AT (≥1:320) were seen in 21 percent of COPD patients and were independently associated with the severity of both airflow limitation and gas transfer impairment. The authors concluded that these results supported the role of autoimmunity in COPD.

"The results of this study show that between a third and a quarter of patients with clinically stable COPD present abnormal levels of circulating ANA and AT, and that the latter are related to impairment of lung function," the authors write. "These observations provide further support to the hypothesis that the pathogenesis of COPD involves an autoimmune component."

The study was funded in part by Novartis Farmacèutica.

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