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Original Research: BIOMARKERS |

Increased Nitric Oxide Concentrations in the Small Airway of Older Normal Subjects

Arthur F. Gelb, MD, FCCP; Steven C. George, MD, PhD; Fernando Camacho, PhD; Christine Fraser, RCP, CPFT; Colleen Flynn Taylor, MA; Sreelakshmi Shakkottai, MBBS
Author and Funding Information

From the Pulmonary Division (Dr Gelb), the Department of Medicine, Lakewood Regional Medical Center, Lakewood, CA; Geffen School of Medicine at University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center (Dr Gelb) Los Angeles, CA; the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering and Materials Science (Dr George), University of California, Irvine, CA; and Damos Statistics Inc (Dr Camacho), Toronto, ON, Canada. Mss Fraser and Flynn Taylor and Dr Shakkottai are independent research contractors.

Correspondence to: Arthur F. Gelb, MD, FCCP, 3650 E South St, Ste 308, Lakewood, CA 90712; e-mail: afgelb@msn.com


Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (http://www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).


© 2011 American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 2011;139(2):368-375. doi:10.1378/chest.10-1157
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Background:  There is a paucity of normal-age stratified data for fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (Feno). Our goal was to obtain normal data for large-airway nitric oxide flux (J’awno) and small-airway and/or alveolar nitric oxide concentration (Cano) in nonsmoking, healthy, adult subjects of various ages.

Methods:  In 106 normal volunteer subjects (60 women) aged 55 ± 20 years (mean ± SD), Feno (parts per billion [ppb]) was measured at 50, 100, 150, and 200 mL/s and J’awno (nL/s) and Cano (ppb) were calculated using a two-compartment model with correction for axial nitric oxide (NO) back diffusion. Fourteen older normal subjects were also treated with inhaled corticosteroid (540 μg budesonide bid) for 14 days.

Results:  We studied 34 younger normal subjects (17 women) aged 18 to 39 years (younger), 26 middle-aged normal subjects (22 women) aged 40 to 59 years (middle-aged), and 46 older normal subjects (21 women) aged 60 to 86 years (older). Feno at 50 mL/s in the younger group was 21 (14-28) ppb (median, 1-3 interquartile); in the middle-aged group it was 22 (18-30) ppb, and in the older group it was 27 (21-33) ppb, (analysis of variance [ANOVA]) P = .02. For Feno, the younger vs older groups was (Mann-Whitney) P = .03, and Feno in the combined younger and middle-aged groups was 21 (15-29) ppb vs 27 (21-33) ppb, P = .006 for the older group. Corrected J’awno in the younger group was 1.5 (1.0-2.1) nL/s; in the middle-aged group it was 1.4 (1.0-2.0) nL/s, and in the older group it was 1.8 (1.2-2.4) nL/s, (ANOVA) P = .3. Corrected Cano in the younger group was 1.9 (0.8-3.0) ppb; in the middle-aged group it was 2.8 (0.8-5.1) ppb, and in the older group it was 3.9 (1.4-6.6) ppb, (ANOVA) P = .02. Cano in the younger vs older groups was P = .003, and the combined younger and middle-aged group result was 2.0 (0.8-3.8) vs 3.9 (1.4-6.6), P = .01 in the older group. There was no change in NO gas exchange with inhaled corticosteroids.

Conclusions:  In nonsmoking healthy subjects with normal spirometry, Feno at 50 mL/s and Cano increased significantly with age ≥ 60 years, whereas J’awno did not. We suspect the increase in Cano was due to a decrease in capillary blood volume with reduced NO diffusion, which is also reflected in increased Feno. Inhaled budesonide had no anti-NO-mediated inflammatory effect. Age-matched control subjects will be needed in NO comparative studies.

Trial registry:  ClinicalTrials.gov; No.: NCT00576069 and NCT00568347; URL: www.clinicaltrials.gov

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