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January 18, 2011, 7:16 AM CT

Pollution damage to human airways

Pollution damage to human airways

Scientists from Duke University Medical Center have identified how nanoparticles from diesel exhaust damage lung airway cells, a finding that could lead to new therapies for people susceptible to airway disease.

The researchers also discovered that the severity of the injury depends on the genetic make-up of the affected individual.

"We gained insight into why some people can remain relatively healthy in polluted areas and why others don't," said main author Wolfgang Liedtke, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Duke Department of Medicine and an attending doctor in the Duke Clinics for Pain and Palliative Care.

The work was published on-line in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives on Jan. 18.

Diesel exhaust particles, a major part of urban smog, consist of a carbon core coated with organic chemicals and metals. The Duke team showed that the particle core delivers these organic chemicals onto brush-like surfaces called cilia, which clear mucus from the airway lining.

Contact with these chemicals then triggers a "signaling cascade," as the cells respond.

In some patients, who have a single "letter" difference in their DNA, a circuit called the TRPV4 ion channel signals more strongly in response to the pollutants. Prior research showed that this gene variant makes humans more liable to develop chronic-obstructive disease (COPD), and the current study provides an explanation for this observation.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


January 4, 2011, 6:24 AM CT

Vitamin D deficiencies and autoimmune lung disease

Vitamin D deficiencies and autoimmune lung disease
A newly released study shows that vitamin D deficiency could be associated with the development and severity of certain autoimmune lung diseases.

These findings are being published in the Jan. 4 edition of the journal Chest

Brent Kinder, MD, UC Health pulmonologist, director of the Interstitial Lung Disease Center at the University of Cincinnati and lead investigator on the study, says vitamin D deficiencies have been found to affect the development of other autoimmune diseases, like lupus and type 1 diabetes.

"We wanted to see if lack of sufficient vitamin D would also be seen in patients who are diagnosed with an autoimmune interstitial lung disease (ILD) and whether it was linked to reduced lung function," he says.

Some ILD patients first discover they have an undifferentiated connective tissue disease, a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects multiple organ systems but is not developed enough for physicians to easily recognize and categorize.

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body produces abnormal cells that turn on the body and attack major organs and tissues. Connective tissue diseases include lupus, scleroderma, polymyositis, vasculitis, rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren's syndrome.

"ILD is a group of diseases that mainly affect the tissues of the lungs instead of the airways, like asthma and emphysema do," says Kinder. "It causes scarring of the lungs, is more difficult to diagnosis and treat than other kinds of lung diseases and is often fatal.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


August 11, 2010, 7:07 PM CT

Bone marrow stem cells to treat respiratory failure

Bone marrow stem cells to treat respiratory failure
Xiaohui Fang is the lead author of the new Journal of Biological Chemistry paper providing further evidence of the therapeutic potential of stem cells derived from bone marrow for patients suffering from acute lung injury, one of the most common causes of respiratory failure in intensive care units.

Credit: Cardiovascular Research Institute of the University of California, San Francisco

Scientists are reporting this week newly released study results they say provide further evidence of the therapeutic potential of stem cells derived from bone marrow for patients suffering from acute lung injury, one of the most common causes of respiratory failure in intensive care units.

Led by Drs. Michael A. Matthay and Jae W. Lee at the Cardiovascular Research Institute of the University of California, San Francisco, the team writes in a Journal of Biological Chemistry "Paper of the Week" that its experiments have revealed how a type of bone marrow stem cell bolsters damaged lung cells.

"We observed that these stem cells secreted a significant quantity of a protein that restored the barrier that keeps fluid and other elements out of the lungs," said Lee, an associate professor of anesthesia at UCSF. "We're optimistic about the promise that future clinical trials may hold".

Researchers for decades have harnessed the natural regenerative properties of bone marrow to treat patients with blood-related diseases. And, of late, investigations into the potential of using bone marrow stem cells to treat damaged tissues have intensified.

There are two types of stem cells in bone marrow. One kind, hematopoietic stem cells, is tasked with producing red and white blood cells, depending upon the immune system's needs. The other, mesenchymal stem cells, is the focus of Matthay and Lee's work. While mesenchymal stem cells also support the production of blood cells, researchers today are quite interested in their ability to differentiate into cells that, when mature, develop into tissues throughout the body.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


January 27, 2010, 8:09 AM CT

New potential to treat COPD

New potential to treat COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is defined by emphysema and/or chronic bronchitis. It destroys the normal architecture of the lung and inhibits the mechanical aspects of breathing, which prevents necessary gas exchange. Patients suffer from coughing fits, wheezing, and increased occurence rate of lung infections. These symptoms are linked to changes in the architecture of the lung. The air sacs, which commonly inflate with air during breathing as they loose their elasticity, becoming rigid and unable to inflate. The lung becomes inflamed and increases its mucus production, which further inhibits gas exchange, and prevents the patient's ability to be physically active.

Eventhough COPD is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, there is currently no cure for the disease. Providing patients with concentrated oxygen treatment and instruction on breathing techniques increases survival rates.

In a newly released study published in Disease Models & Mechanisms (DMM), dmm.biologists.org, collaborative findings by European scientists demonstrate that an antioxidant protein, sestrin, triggers molecular pathways that induce some of the critical lung changes linked to COPD. By genetically inactivating this protein, they were able to improve the elastic features of the lung in a mouse model of emphysema. These authors think that by inhibiting the antioxidant sestrin protein, they prevent the accelerated degradation of elastic fibers within the lung. This suggests that patients with COPD could benefit from therapy with drugs that block sestrin function.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


January 21, 2010, 8:21 AM CT

COPD and heart function

COPD and heart function
A common lung condition, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) diminishes the heart's ability to pump effectively even when the disease has no or mild symptoms, as per research reported in the Jan. 21 issue of the New England Journal (NEJM) The study is the first time scientists have shown strong links between heart function and mild COPD. The research was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health.

Scientists have long known that severe cases of COPD have harmful effects on the heart, decreasing its ability to pump blood effectively. The new results suggest that these changes in the heart occur much earlier than previously believed, in mild cases and even before symptoms appear. One in five Americans over the age of 45 has COPD, but as a number of as half of them may not even be aware of it.

"This study shows that COPD, even in its mildest form, is linked to diminished heart function," said NHLBI Acting Director Susan B. Shurin, M.D. "We now have evidence that the presence of even mild COPD may have important health implications beyond the lungs."

COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, and it is strongly linked to smoking. COPD often involves destruction of lung tissue, called emphysema, as well as narrowed airways, persistent cough, and mucus production, known as chronic obstructive bronchitis. These abnormalities impair the flow of air in the lungs and make breathing more difficult.........

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December 29, 2009, 8:47 AM CT

Exposure to tobacco in childhood

Exposure to tobacco in childhood
Children regularly exposed to tobacco smoke at home were more likely to develop early emphysema in adulthood. This finding by scientists at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health suggests that the lungs may not recover completely from the effects of early-life exposures to tobacco smoke (ETS). The study is reported in the December 2009 American Journal of Epidemiology

This population-based research is the first to examine the association of childhood ETS with early emphysema by Computerized axial tomography scan in nonsmokers. Approximately half of the participants in this large multiethnic cohort had at least one regular cigarette smoker in their childhood home. Participants with more childhood ETS exposure had more emphysema-like lung pixels; an average of 20% of scan pixels were emphysema-like for those who lived with two or more smokers as a child, compared with 18% for those who lived with one regular smoker, or 17% for those who said that they did not live with a regular inside smoker as a child.

The scientists studied Computerized axial tomography scans of 1,781 non-smokers without clinical cardiovascular disease recruited from six communities in the United States, including northern Manhattan and the Bronx, New York. Those reporting childhood ETS exposure were somewhat younger, with an average age of 61; were more likely to be non- Hispanic white; and less likely to have been born outside the United States. These differences were statistically controlled in the analyses.........

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December 23, 2009, 7:53 AM CT

Pollution can increase the risk of penumonia

Pollution can increase the risk of penumonia
Elderly adults with long-term exposure to higher levels of pollution are at higher risk for hospitalization for pneumonia, as per scientists in Canada.

"Our study observed that among older individuals, long-term exposure to traffic pollution independently increased their risk of hospitalization for pneumonia," said principal investigator, Mark Loeb, M.D., of McMaster University.

The research would be reported in the January 1 issue of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine

Pneumonia is a leading cause of sickness and death among elderly adults, and rates of hospitalizations for pneumonia among patients 65 and older have been increasing in recent years.

In addition to traffic pollution linked to roads, Hamilton has a large industrial steel-making complex in the north end of the city, creating a large exposure zone for residents. The scientists recruited 365 elderly adults from Hamilton, Ontario, who had been hospitalized with radiologically confirmed pneumonia in one of Hamilton's four emergency departments between 2003 and 2005. Control subjects from the same catchment areas as the patients were enrolled contemporaneously, and then compared their exposures to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and fine particulate matter less that 2.5 μm (PM2.5) using data from air-quality monitoring stations and land use regression models.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


December 18, 2009, 8:22 AM CT

Protein that causes cystic fibrosis

Protein that causes cystic fibrosis
Jeng-Haur Chen is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Iowa's medical college and the lead author on a paper to be published in the Dec. 18 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Credit: Handout photo

A team of scientists studying the protein that, when defective or absent, causes cystic fibrosis (CF) has made an important discovery about how that protein is normally controlled and under what circumstances it might go awry.

"Understanding the regulation of salt transport in normal cells is critical for the development of new therapies for diseases, like CF, that disrupt salt movements across cell borders," said Jeng-Haur Chen, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and the main author on a paper to be reported in the Dec. 18 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects a number of organs, especially the lungs and digestive system. CF patients carry a defective gene that disables or destroys its protein product, which normally regulates the transport of salt across cell borders. As a result, the body produces thick mucus that blocks its ducts and tubes.

Blockage of air passageways causes chronic cough and lung infection; blockage of the pancreas prevents enzyme delivery to the intestine to break down food; and blockage in the intestine prevents food absorption.

About 70,000 people worldwide have the disease, the majority of whom are children and young adults.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


October 8, 2009, 7:50 AM CT

Overweight, breathing and sleep disorders

Overweight, breathing and sleep disorders
Overweight individuals are not just at greater risk of having sleep-disordered-breathing (SDB), they are also likely to suffer greater consequences, as per new research.

As per the study, to be reported in the October 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, an official publication of the American Thoracic Society, excess weight increased the severity of oxygen desaturation in the blood of individuals with SDB during and after apneas and hypopneas.

"We knew that excess body weight is strongly correlation to more frequent breathing eventsapneas and hypopneasin persons with SDB," said main author Paul E. Peppard, Ph.D., assistant professor of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "In this study, we wanted to go a step further and measure how much the excess weight contributes to the severity of individual breathing events".

Dr. Peppard and his colleagues recruited 750 adults from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort study, an ongoing epidemiological investigation into the natural history of SDB, to have their breathing, blood-oxygen levels and sleep analyzed. Participants were also reviewed on several measures of physiquebody mass index (BMI), neck -circumference and waist-to-hip ratio.

Among the participants in the overnight study, 40 percent of whom were obese, there were more than 37,000 SDB events. The scientists observed that many factors influenced the severity of blood oxygen desaturation linked to these events, including age, gender, body position and sleep phase (REM or non-REM sleep). However, even after these other factors were accounted for, the scientists observed that BMI predicted the degree to which the body's tissues were "starved" of oxygen during apneas and hypopneas. In fact, each 10-point increase in BMI predicted a 10 percent increase in the severity of oxygen depletion linked to SDB events.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 8, 2009, 7:49 AM CT

Triple therapy for COPD

Triple therapy for COPD
Patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can benefit from triple treatment that includes a long-acting β-agonist (LABA), an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) and an anti-muscarinic agent, as per scientists in Gera number of.

In the study, which will appear in the October 15 issue of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, scientists observed that adding budesonide, an ICS, and formoterol, a LABA, to the anti-muscarinic agent, tiotropium, reduced the rate of severe exacerbations in COPD patients by 62 percent. Triple treatment also resulted in significant improvements on many outcome parameters in COPD patients, including lung function, signs and symptoms, and quality of life.

"This approach is of interest because the goal of COPD management is to achieve optimal control," wrote main author, Prof. Tobias Welte, M.D., head of the Department of Respiratory Medicine of the Hannover Medical School in Gera number of.

While current guidelines suggest using both LABA and/or muscarinic antagonists and ICS in only a small number of patients, triple treatment is more widely used in clinical practice than officially recommended, but the benefits have never been demonstrated in a randomized controlled trial.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


September 9, 2009, 7:40 AM CT

New vaccine shows promise for COPD patients

New vaccine shows promise for COPD patients
A new vaccine against pneumonia may offer better protection from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients than the currently accepted vaccine, as per recent research that would be reported in the September 15 issue of the American Journal of the Respiratory and Critical Care Journal, a publication of the American Thoracic Society.

Because pneumonia disproportionately affects patients with COPD and frequently causes exacerbations, the Centers for Disease Control currently recommend that all adults with COPD receive the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccination (PPSV23). However, the efficacy of PPSV23 is not well established in the COPD patient population.

"Reasonable effectiveness for this vaccine has been demonstrated in cohort studies in adults with lung disease," said Mark Dransfield, M.D. of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and main author of the study. "[However,] debate remains about its immunogenicity and effectiveness in COPD."

Dr. Dransfield and his colleagues sought to determine the efficacy of a newer type of vaccine, PCV7, a protein conjugate vaccine, which attaches a weak antigen (in this case, the pneumococcal polysaccharide antigen) to a stronger antigen (the diphtheria toxin) in the hope that the stronger antigen with provoke a more forceful defense from the immune system.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


April 2, 2009, 4:54 AM CT

Supervised exercise program for COPD patients

Supervised exercise program for COPD patients
Dr. Richard Casaburi, LA BioMed senior investigator, supervises a study of exercise therapy, or pulmonary rehabilitation, in a patient with COPD.

Credit: LA BioMed

Those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often complain that exercise is too exhausting and leaves them breathless. An article in the current issue of the New England Journal (NEJM) reports that supervised exercise through pulmonary rehabilitation can actually reduce their feelings of breathlessness, increase their tolerance for exercise and improve their quality of life.

The article's main author is Richard Casaburi, Ph.D., M.D., a senior investigator at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed). He directs the institute's Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center, a facility that focuses on COPD research. Dr. Casaburi surveyed prior studies on pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD and observed that supervised exercise treatment improves aerobic function of the muscles, which helps reduce the breathlessness that is common in COPD.

"These findings are a clear indication that pulmonary rehabilitation can improve the quality of life for those living with COPD," said Dr. Casaburi. "The studies also indicate that pulmonary rehabilitation results in decreased anxiety and depression for COPD patients because they find they can exercise more, and they enjoy the feeling that they have mastered something important in their lives".........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


February 20, 2009, 6:00 AM CT

Global warming and respiratory problems

Global warming and respiratory problems
High summer temperatures, pushed higher by global climate change, may bring with them a spike in hospitalizations for respiratory problems, as per an analysis of data from twelve European cities, from Dublin to Valencia. The data comes from the "Evaluation and Prevention of Acute Health Effects of Weather Conditions in Europe" (PHEWE), a multi-center, three-year collaboration between epidemiologists, meteorologists and experts in public health collaboration that investigated the short-term effects of weather in Europe.

As climate change has gone from a scientific theory to an accepted and encroaching reality, more extreme weather, including hotter summers, is anticipated around the planet. But the secondary effects of climate change are also coming into sharper focus.

The PHEWE project reviewed the effects of higher temperatures on hospitalizations for many different conditions in Europe. They observed that for every degree increase over a temperature threshold, there was a four percent average increase in respiratory-related hospitalizations, but not for cardiovascular or neurovascular- related problems.

The results were reported in the first issue for March of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


February 10, 2009, 6:28 AM CT

Chronic Lung Diseases In Smokers

Chronic Lung Diseases In Smokers
Eventhough the immune system is designed to protect the body from harm, it may actually worsen one of the most difficult-to-treat respiratory diseases: chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), as per new University of Cincinnati (UC) research.

In a preclinical research study, UC environmental health researchers have identified a link between cigarette smoke and activation of a specific cellular receptor (NKG2D) critical to immune system activation. They say the finding is key to understanding COPD disease progression and developing future interventional drug therapies.

"People have historically believed that if you smoke, you suppress the immune system. We've shown that you actually activate certain parts of the immune system and it could potentially work against you," explains Michael Borchers, PhD, lead investigator of the study and UC assistant professor of environmental health.

Borchers and his team report their findings in the March 2009 issue of theJournal of Clinical Investigation. The study appears online ahead of print Feb. 9, 2009. It is the first study to report data defining a link between the immune system and COPD disease progression and severity.

COPD is a progressive pulmonary disease thought to becaused by long-term cigarette smoking. Typically the irreversible and incurable condition is characterized by emphysema and severe inflammation of the lung tissue.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


February 6, 2009, 5:55 AM CT

Sleep apnea may be cured if you put effort to lose weight

Sleep apnea may be cured if you put effort to lose weight
For sufferers of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a newly released study shows that losing weight is perhaps the single most effective way to reduce OSA symptoms and associated disorders, as per a newly released study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, one of the American Thoracic Society's three peer-evaluated journals.

Weight loss may not be a new miracle pill or a fancy high-tech therapy, but it is an exciting treatment for sufferers of OSA both because of its short- and long-term effectiveness and for its relatively modest price tag. Surgery doesn't last, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are only as effective as the patient's adherence, and most other devices have had disappointing outcomes, in addition to being expensive, unwieldy and having poor patient compliance. Furthermore, OSA is generally only treated when it has progressed to a moderate to severe state.

"Very low calorie diet (VLCD) combined with active lifestyle counseling resulting in marked weight reduction is a feasible and effective therapy for the majority of patients with mild OSA, and the achieved beneficial outcomes are maintained at 1-year follow-up," wrote Henri P.I. Tuomilehto, M.D., Ph.D., of the department of Otorhinolaryngology at the Kuopio University Hospital in Finland.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 4, 2008, 10:56 PM CT

Lung airway cells activate vitamin D

Lung airway cells activate vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential to good health but needs to be activated to function properly in the human body. Until recently, this activation was thought to happen primarily in the kidneys, but a new University of Iowa study finds that the activation step can also occur in lung airway cells.

The study also links the vitamin D locally produced in the lung airway cells to activation of two genes that help fight infection. The study results appear in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal of Immunology, now online.

In addition to contributing to calcium absorption and bone health, vitamin D is increasingly recognized for its beneficial effects on the immune system. Vitamin D deficiency has been recently associated with increased risk of some infections, autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes, and some cancers.

"The more researchers have been studying vitamin D, the more we learn about new roles it plays in the human body," said the study's lead author Sif Hansdottir, M.D., fellow in internal medicine in the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. "The active form of vitamin D is known to affect the expression of more than 200 genes, so we were interested both in the possible lung-specific production of active vitamin D and in vitamin D-dependent production of proteins that fight infections".........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


October 27, 2008, 10:39 PM CT

Statins associated with lower risk of death from pneumonia

Statins associated with lower risk of death from pneumonia
Individuals who take cholesterol-lowering statins before being hospitalized with pneumonia appear less likely to die within 90 days afterward, as per a report in the October 27 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

In the United States and Europe, pneumonia hospitalization rates have increased 20 percent to 50 percent over the past decade, as per background information in the article. About 10 percent to 15 percent of those with pneumonia die from the disease. A recent review article indicated that statins may benefit patients with sepsis (infection of the bloodstream) or bacteremia (presence of bacteria in the bloodstream), possibly due to the medications' anti-clotting, anti-inflammatory or immune-modifying properties.

Reimar W. Thomsen, M.D., Ph.D., of Aarhus University and Aalborg Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark, and his colleagues evaluated data from 29,900 adults hospitalized with pneumonia between 1997 and 2004. Of these, 1,371 (4.6 percent) were taking statins at the time.

"Mortality [death] among statin users was lower than among non-users: 10.3 percent vs. 15.7 percent after 30 days and 16.8 percent vs. 22.4 percent after 90 days," the authors write. The lowest relative death rate linked to statins was observed in patients older than 80 and in those with bacteremia. "The differences became apparent during the first few weeks of hospitalization, a period linked to a high number of pneumonia-related deaths, and they increased only minimally between 30 and 90 days after admission, which suggests that statin use is beneficial primarily in the early phase of infection".........

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Did you know?
The use of a nighttime air pump is the preferred therapy for sleep apnea because of questions about the safety and effectiveness of surgery, according to a new review of previous studies.The reviewers, led by Supriya Sunduram of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in England, conclude that despite widespread use of surgery as a means of improving sleep quality, it should not be recommended because of "uncertainty surrounding its safety, continued effectiveness and inconsistent" results.

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