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Am Rev Respir Dis. 1993 May;147(5):1132-7.

Markers of mucus secretion and DNA levels in induced sputum from asthmatic and from healthy subjects.

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Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco 94143.


To determine whether markers of mucus secretion can be quantified in airway lining fluid from asthmatic and from healthy subjects, we measured levels of a mucin-like glycoprotein (MLG) and lactoferrin in sputum induced by inhalation of hypertonic (3%) saline in 18 asthmatic and in 10 healthy subjects. Because DNA, like mucin, contributes to the viscosity of airway secretions, we also measured DNA levels in the induced sputum samples. To control for the presence of saliva in sputum, we also analyzed saliva samples from all subjects. The entire sputum sample and the saliva sample were reduced using dithiotreitol, and biochemical analysis was performed on supernatants obtained after centrifugation. We found that induced sputum from asthmatic subjects had higher levels of MLG [2,574.4 +/- 907.8 (mean +/- SEM) versus 562.2 +/- 90.5 micrograms/ml, p < 0.007] and DNA (7.1 +/- 1.6 versus 3.6 +/- 0.6 micrograms/ml, p < 0.05), but the difference in lactoferrin levels failed to reach statistical significance. However, in the subgroup of asthmatic subjects who gave a history of sputum production (n = 9), lactoferrin levels were higher than in the healthy control subjects (118.9 +/- 46.3 versus 35.2 +/- 6.5 micrograms/ml, p < 0.05). The very low levels of MLG, DNA, and lactoferrin measured in saliva were not significantly different in asthmatic subjects from those in healthy subjects. We conclude that measurement of markers of mucus secretion in induced sputum is feasible in asthmatic and healthy subjects, and it reveals abnormally high markers of mucus secretion in subjects with stable asthma.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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