Acquired defects in CFTR-dependent β-adrenergic sweat secretion in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Academic Article


  • Rationale: Smoking-induced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with acquired systemic cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) dysfunction. Recently, sweat evaporimetry has been shown to efficiently measure β-adrenergic sweat rate and specifically quantify CFTR function in the secretory coil of the sweat gland.Objectives: To evaluate the presence and severity of systemic CFTR dysfunction in smoking-related lung disease using sweat evaporimetry to determine CFTR-dependent sweat rate.Methods: We recruited a cohort of patients consisting of healthy never smokers (N = 18), healthy smokers (12), COPD smokers (25), and COPD former smokers (12) and measured β-adrenergic sweat secretion rate with evaporative water loss, sweat chloride, and clinical data (spirometry and symptom questionnaires).Measurements and main results: β-adrenergic sweat rate was reduced in COPD smokers (41.9 ± 3.4, P < 0.05, ± SEM) and COPD former smokers (39.0 ± 5.4, P < 0.05) compared to healthy controls (53.6 ± 3.4). Similarly, sweat chloride was significantly greater in COPD smokers (32.8 ± 3.3, P < 0.01) and COPD former smokers (37.8 ± 6.0, P < 0.01) vs. healthy controls (19.1 ± 2.5). Univariate analysis revealed a significant association between β-adrenergic sweat rate and female gender (β = 0.26), age (-0.28), FEV1% (0.35), dyspnea (-0.3), and history of smoking (-0.27; each P < 0.05). Stepwise multivariate regression included gender (0.39) and COPD (-0.43) in the final model (R2 = 0.266, P < 0.0001).Conclusions: β-adrenergic sweat rate was significantly reduced in COPD patients, regardless of smoking status, reflecting acquired CFTR dysfunction and abnormal gland secretion in the skin that can persist despite smoking cessation. β-adrenergic sweat rate and sweat chloride are associated with COPD severity and clinical symptoms, supporting the hypothesis that CFTR decrements have a causative role in COPD pathogenesis. © 2014 Courville et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Courville CA; Tidwell S; Liu B; Accurso FJ; Dransfield MT; Rowe SM
  • Volume

  • 15
  • Issue

  • 1