The global burden of chronic airway diseases represents an important public health concern. The role of oxidative stress and inflammation in the pathogenesis of these diseases is well known. The aim of this study is to evaluate the behavior of both inflammatory and oxidative stress biomarkers in patients with chronic bronchitis, current asthma and past asthma in the frame of a population-based study.
For this purpose, data collected from the Gene Environment Interactions in Respiratory Diseases (GEIRD) Study, an Italian multicentre, multicase-control study, was evaluated. Cases and controls were identified through a two-stage screening process of individuals aged 20-65 years from the general population. Out of 16,569 subjects selected from the general population in the first stage of the survey, 2259 participated in the clinical evaluation. Oxidative stress biomarkers such as 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG), 8-isoprostane and glutathione and inflammatory biomarkers such as Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide (FENO) and white blood cells were evaluated in 1878 subjects.
Current asthmatics presented higher levels of FENO (23.05 ppm), leucocytes (6770 n/µL), basophils (30.75 n/µL) and eosinophils (177.80 n/µL), while subjects with chronic bronchitis showed higher levels of GSH (0.29 mg/mL) and lymphocytes (2101.6 n/µL). The multivariable multinomial logistic regression confirmed high levels of leucocytes (RRR = 1.33), basophils (RRR = 1.48), eosinophils (RRR = 2.39), lymphocytes (RRR = 1.26) and FENO (RRR = 1.42) in subjects with current asthma. Subjects with past asthma had a statistically significant higher level of eosinophils (RRR = 1.78) with respect to controls. Subjects with chronic bronchitis were characterized by increased levels of eosinophils (RRR = 2.15), lymphocytes (RRR = 1.58), GSH (RRR = 2.23) and 8-isoprostane (RRR = 1.23).
In our study, current asthmatics show a greater expression of the inflammatory profile compared to subjects who have had asthma in the past and chronic bronchitis. On the other hand, chronic bronchitis subjects showed a higher rate of expression of oxidative stress biomarkers compared to asthmatic subjects. In particular, inflammatory markers such as circulating inflammatory cells and FENO seem to be more specific for current asthma, while oxidative stress biomarkers such as glutathione and 8-isoprostane appear to be more specific and applicable to patients with chronic bronchitis.