Oxidative Stress Behind Lung Problems
Reported May 20, 2008
(Ivanhoe Newswire) — New research suggests markers for oxidative stress in young people can predict the later onset of lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Oxidative stress itself is not a disease, but it can lead to one. As we breathe, our bodies are constantly reacting with oxygen and cells produce energy. During the process, highly reactive molecules known as free radicals are produced. When they react with proteins, membranes and genes, it can cause oxidative damage. External factors like pollution, sunlight and smoking also cause the production of free radicals.
A study conducted at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine looked at data from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institutes Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults. They studied markers for oxidant stress including low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL).
Their main finding was that the highest levels of oxLDL were associated with the lowest measure of airflow obstruction — one of the defining features of COPD. The teams also found these levels were present in women to a significant extent, but not in men.
Women develop COPD more often than men, but we do not have a sense as to why, Ravi Kalhan, M.D., M.S., an assistant professor of medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine, was quoted as saying. Exploring whether women have increased vulnerability to COPD or other lung disease because of more oxidant stress could open the door to new therapies to modify the risk of developing the disease.
Until this study, it has not been shown that oxidant markers could predict future COPD development. The association between their levels and lower lung function serve as a first step, Dr. Kalhan said. Because only the minority of smokers develop COPD, it would be a huge step forward if we could predict future development of CPD among individuals at risk.
SOURCE: American Thoracic Societys 2008 International Conference in Toronto, May 21, 2008