A dynamic bronchial airway gene expression signature of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung function impairment

Katrina Steiling, Maarten Van Den Berge, Kahkeshan Hijazi, Roberta Florido, Joshua Campbell, Gang Liu, Ji Xiao, Xiaohui Zhang, Grant Duclos, Eduard Drizik, Huiqing Si, Catalina Perdomo, Charles Dumont, Harvey O. Coxson, Yuriy O. Alekseyev, Don Sin, Peter Pare, James C. Hogg, Annette McWilliams, Pieter S. HiemstraPeter J. Sterk, Wim Timens, Jeffrey T. Chang, Paola Sebastiani, George T. O'Connor, Andrea H. Bild, Dirkje S. Postma, Stephen Lam, Avrum Spira, Marc E. Lenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Rationale: Molecular phenotyping of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been impeded in partby the difficultyin obtaining lung tissue samples from individuals with impaired lung function. Objectives: We sought to determine whether COPD-associated processes are reflected in gene expression profiles of bronchial airway epithelial cells obtained by bronchoscopy. Methods: Gene expression profiling of bronchial brushings obtained from 238 current and former smokers with and without COPD was performed using Affymetrix Human Gene 1.0 ST Arrays. Measurements and Main Results: We identified 98 genes whose expression levels were associated with COPD status, FEV1% predicted, and FEV1/FVC. In silico analysis identified activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) as a potential transcriptional regulator of genes with COPD-associatedairway expression, and ATF4 overexpressioninair-way epithelial cells in vitro recapitulates COPD-associated gene expression changes. Genes with COPD-associated expression in the bronchial airway epithelium had similarly altered expression profiles in prior studies performed on small-airway epithelium and lung parenchyma, suggesting that transcriptomic alterations in the bronchial airwayepithelium reflect molecular eventsfoundatmore distal sites of disease activity. Many of the airway COPD-associated gene expression changes revert toward baseline after therapy with the inhaled corticosteroid fluticasone in independent cohorts. Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate a molecular field of injury throughout the bronchial airway of active and former smokers with COPD that may be driven in part by ATF4 and is modifiable with therapy. Bronchial airway epithelium may ultimately serve as a relatively accessible tissue in which to measure biomarkers of disease activity for guiding clinical management of COPD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)933-942
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Biologic markers
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Gene expression profiling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'A dynamic bronchial airway gene expression signature of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung function impairment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this