14 December 2020
The link between ADAM9 and airway remodeling and emphysema severity in COPD patients has not been elucidated. Here, we investigated the relationship between ADAM9 levels in sputum and airway epithelium and the clinical characteristics of COPD patients.
A sputum cohort and a lung tissue cohort were included in the study. Pulmonary function and computed tomography data were analyzed in COPD patients, non-COPD smokers, and non-smokers. Soluble ADAM9 and interleukin 8 (IL-8) levels in sputum supernatants as well as surface ADAM9 expression in airway epithelium were detected. Emphysema scores were calculated by the percentage of low attenuation area (%LAA-950), and airway remodeling was measured via airway thickening and loss of airway counts.
Both soluble ADAM9 levels in sputum and relative surface ADAM9 expression in airway epithelium were increased in COPD patients. Sputum ADAM9 levels were negatively correlated with forced expiratory volume in 1 s of predicted (FEV1% of predicted) and positively correlated with sputum IL-8 levels, but not with CT measured emphysema nor airway remodeling. The ADAM9 expression in airway epithelia was positively correlated with %LAA-950 and airway wall thickening parameters (wall area percentage, WA%; the square root of the wall area in a standard airway with a 10 mm internal perimeter, Pi-10), while negatively correlated with airway counts derived from the 4th to 9th bronchial generations.