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F1000Res. 2013 Apr 19;2:114. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.2-114.v1. eCollection 2013.

Comparison of arterial and venous blood biomarker levels in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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  • 1Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, 02115, USA.
  • 2St Elizabeth's Medical Center, Brighton, Massachusetts, 02135, USA.



The development of novel biomarkers is an unmet need in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Arterial blood comes directly from the lung and venous blood drains capillary beds of the organ or tissue supplied. We hypothesized that there would be a difference in levels of the biomarkers metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9), vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and interleukin 6 (IL-6) in arterial compared with venous blood. 


Radial artery and brachial vein blood samples were taken simultaneously in each of 12 patients with COPD and seven controls with normal lung function. Circulating immunoreactive MMP-9, VEGF-A and IL-6 levels in serum were measured using quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. RESULTS were compared using a Student's paired t test. The study was powered to determine whether significant differences in cytokine levels were present between paired arterial and venous blood samples.  


In the 12 patients with COPD, four were female, and age ranged 53-85 years, mean age 69 years. Three patients in the control group were female, with age range 46-84 years, mean age 64.7 years. In the COPD group, three patients had mild, five moderate and four severe COPD. No significant difference was found between arterial and venous levels of MMP-9, VEGF-A or IL-6. 


In this pilot study, levels of the measured biomarkers in arterial compared with venous blood in both COPD patients and healthy controls did not differ. This suggests that as we continue to chase the elusive biomarker in COPD as a potential tool to measure disease activity, we should focus on venous blood for this purpose.

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