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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011 Sep 15;184(6):637-41. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201103-0450PP.

Matrix elastin: a promising biomarker for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, Pulmonary Medicine, 1000 Tenth Avenue, New York, New York 10019, USA.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major health problem worldwide and is now the third leading cause of death in the United States. There is a lack of therapies that can stop progression of the disease and improve survival. New drug discovery can be aided by the development of biomarkers, which can act as indicators of severity in the course of the disease and responses to therapy. This perspective brings together the laboratory and clinical evidence, which suggest that elastin degradation products can fulfill the need for such a biomarker. Elastin is a recognized target for injury in COPD. The amino acids desmosine and isodesmosine exist only in matrix elastin; can be measured specifically and sensitively in plasma, urine, and sputum; and indicate changes in the systemic balance between elastase activity and elastase inhibition brought on by the systemic inflammatory state. The biomarker levels in sputum reflect the state of elastin degradation in the lung specifically. Clinical data accumulated over several decades indicate correlations of desmosine and isodesmosine levels with COPD of varying severity and responses to therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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