In an attempt to further evaluate the role of neutrophil elastase (NE) in the development of emphysema, we examined the immunologic quantity of NE bound to alpha 1-protease inhibitor (PI), the NE inhibitory activity, and the molecular pattern of alpha 1-PI in unconcentrated bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) supernatant from 36 community-based older volunteers. They were classified into three groups: 10 current smokers with low attenuation areas (LAAs) on the lung computed tomography (CT) scans who were considered to have subclinical emphysema, 13 current smokers who had a comparable smoking history but no LAA, and 13 noncurrent smokers without LAA. The concentration of NE-alpha 1-PI complex was significantly increased in the subjects with subclinical emphysema when compared not only with the noncurrent smokers (0.52 +/- 0.10 versus 0.21 +/- 0.03 SEM micrograms/mg albumin, p < 0.01) but also with the LAA(-) current smokers (0.52 +/- 0.10 versus 0.23 +/- 0.07 SEM micrograms/mg albumin, p < 0.01). NE inhibitory activity measured by a spectrophotometric method using methoxysuccinyl-alanyl-alanyl-prolyl-valyl-paranitroanilide did not show any significant difference between the two groups of current smokers. There was no difference in the pattern or density of native and proteolysed alpha 1-PI bands between the three groups by Western blotting. We conclude that NE-alpha 1-PI complex in BALF is a factor that may differentiate smokers who are potentially developing emphysema from those who are not.
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Excessive neutrophil elastase in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid in subclinical emphysema.
x, T Betsuyaku
x, M Nishimura
x, K Miyamoto
x, T Kondo Y Kawakami