Exhaled breath condensate pH as a biomarker of COPD severity in ex-smokers
AuthorPapaioannou, A. I.; Loukides, S.; Minas, M.; Kontogianni, K.; Bakakos, P.; Gourgoulianis, K. I.; Alchanatis, M.; Papiris, S.; Kostikas, K.
Endogenous airway acidification, as assessed by exhaled breath condensate (EBC) pH, is present in patients with stable COPD. The aim of this study was to measure EBC pH levels in a large cohort of COPD patients and to evaluate associations with functional parameters according to their smoking status. EBC was collected from 161 patients with stable COPD and 112 controls (current and ex-smokers). EBC pH was measured after Argon deaeration and all subjects underwent pulmonary function testing. EBC pH was lower in COPD patients compared to controls [7.21 (7.02, 7.44) vs. 7.50 (7.40, 7.66); p < 0.001] and ex-smokers with COPD had lower EBC pH compared to current smokers [7.16 (6.89, 7.36) vs 7.24 (7.09, 7.54), p = 0.03]. In ex-smokers with COPD, EBC pH was lower in patients with GOLD stage III and IV compared to patients with stage I disease (p = 0.026 and 0.004 respectively). No differences were observed among current smokers with different disease severity. EBC pH levels in ex-smokers were associated with static hyperinflation (as expressed by IC/TLC ratio), air trapping (as expressed by RV/TLC ratio) and diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide, whereas no associations were observed in current smokers. Endogenous airway acidification is related to disease severity and to parameters expressing hyperinflation and air trapping in ex-smokers with COPD. The possible role of EBC pH in COPD needs to be further evaluated in longitudinal studies.