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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2010 Jul 15;182(2):192-9. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200912-1846OC. Epub 2010 Mar 18.

Tumor necrosis factor-{alpha} rs361525 polymorphism is associated with increased local production and downstream inflammation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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  • 1Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Birmingham Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK B15 2TT.



Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has a genetic component, explaining susceptibility. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha polymorphisms have been associated with COPD, but it is unclear if genotype influences clinical phenotype, protein expression, and bioactivity.


To determine if a functional polymorphism was important by assessing TNF-alpha expression and activity and its association with clinical severity over time.


Patients with COPD with rs361525 polymorphism were matched to patients with COPD without rs361525 polymorphism. TNF-alpha, its antagonists, and downstream mediators were measured in plasma and sputum. To determine TNF-alpha bioactivity, IL-8 secretion from primary bronchial epithelial cells (PBECs) was measured, and neutrophil migration was assessed using sputum from both subject groups in the presence and absence of TNF-alpha antibody. Subjects were followed annually and compared.


Patients with polymorphism had more chronic bronchitis, a lower body mass index, and a greater annual decline in FEV(1) than patients with COPD without rs361525 polymorphism. TNF-alpha concentrations were 100-fold higher in airway secretions from the patients with the rs361525 polymorphism, with no difference in TNF-alpha antagonists. Their lung secretions contained more IL-8 and myeloperoxidase, consistent with downstream inflammation. Sputum from patients with rs361525 polymorphism induced greater secretion of IL-8 from PBECs and increased neutrophil migration. These effects could be abrogated by TNF-alpha antibody, demonstrating the bioactivity of TNF-alpha in lung secretions from this group.


This TNF-alpha polymorphism is associated with clinical features of disease including progression. There is clear evidence of TNF-alpha overexpression and bioactivity with neutrophilic inflammation. The polymorphism is likely to be a factor that influences a COPD disease phenotype and its progression.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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