BACKGROUND: The burden of proteinases from inflammatory cells in the lung of subjects with type Pi ZZ of alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is higher than in those without the deficiency. Cross-sectional studies have shown increased levels of biomarkers of extracellular matrix degradation in vivo. Longitudinal variability of these biomarkers is unknown but desirable for clinical studies with proteinase inhibitors. METHODS: We measured three different types of biomarkers, including desmosines, elastase-formed fibrinogen fragments and heparan sulfate epitope JM403, in plasma and urine for a period of 7 weeks in a group of 12 patients who participated in a placebo-controlled study to assess the safety of a single inhalation of hyaluronic acid. RESULTS: Effect of study medication on any of the biomarkers was not seen. Baseline desmosines in plasma and urine correlated with baseline CO diffusion capacity (R = 0.81, p = 0.01 and R = 0.65, p = 0.05). Mean coefficient of variation within patients (CVi) for plasma and urine desmosines was 18.7 to 13.5%, respectively. Change in urinary desmosine levels correlated significantly with change in plasma desmosine levels (R = 0.84, p < 0.01). Mean CVi for fibrinogen fragments in plasma was 20.5% and for JM403 in urine was 27.8%. No correlations were found between fibrinogen fragments or JM403 epitope and desmosines. CONCLUSION: We found acceptable variability in our study parameters, indicating the feasibility of their use in an evaluation of biochemical efficacy of alpha-1-antitrypsin augmentation therapy in Pi Z subjects.
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