Patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) of the same age differ significantly in their degree of pulmonary disease. Based on preliminary observations, we postulated that the activity of my‐eloperoxidase would be significantly increased in patients with greater structural lung damage than in those with less lung damage. Acid extracts of weighed sputum samples were assayed for lactoferrin concentrations by ELISA. Activities of peroxidase, cathepsin G, and elastase (with and without proteinase 3) were determined by kinetic analysis using chromogenic substrates. The patients were divided into quartiles based on their Brasfield chest‐radiograph score. Patients in the first quartile (least amount of structural lung abnormality) were compared to those in the fourth quartile. The concentration of lactoferrin, a specific (secondary) granule protein of neutrophils, did not differ between the two patient groups. However, the activities of the neutrophil primary granule proteins, peroxidase, elastase, and elastase plus proteinase 3, were significantly elevated in the group with the most structural lung abnormality. Sputum albumin concentration was used to estimate leakages of plasma proteins into the airways. Peroxidase activity, but not the activity of cathepsin G, of elastase, or of elastase plus proteinase 3, correlated significantly with albuminig sputum in both quartile groups. To confirm the association of sputum peroxidase activity with differences in lung structure and to test its correlation with lung function, spirometry was performed in a second group of patients during the week prior to the time of sputum sampling. In this second group, increased sputum peroxidase activity was associated with worse Brasfield scores and with decreased percent‐predicted forced expiratory volume in 1 sec. Lactoferrin concentration again did not differ between the groups. Bacterial factors also did not differ. The results indicate that the degree of lung damage in patients with CF was more closely related to sputum peroxidase activity than to age, gender, CFTR genotype, or sputum bacterial parameters. Further study is required to determine whether or not peroxidase activity in the airway causes this lung damage. © 1995 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
- CF trans‐membrane conductance regulator
- peroxidase, cathepsin G, elastase
- sputum albumin