Metabolomic Profiling of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

A recently published article in Experimental Biology and Medicine (Volume 246, Issue 14, July 2021) provides new insights into the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The study, led by Dr. Baoquin Sun in State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Disease at the National Clinical Research Center for Respiratory Disease and the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University (China), reports that patients with COPD exhibit alterations in energy metabolism.   
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a respiratory disease characterized by a blockage of airflow from the lungs. COPD is associated with long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from cigarette smoke and environmental pollution.  While there is no cure, disease progression can be delayed by reducing exposure to pollutants and infections. The development of new therapies for delaying disease progression requires a better understanding of the pathogenesis of the COPD. Recent studies have implicated alterations in energy metabolism in numerous chronic diseases including COPD.  Nonetheless, a detailed analysis of metabolites, or small molecules, generated during energy production in COPD patients is not available.    
In this study, Dr. Sun and colleagues used metabolomic profiling to investigate aerobic and anaerobic energy metabolism in COPD patients. COPD patients had a significant increase in anaerobic metabolites at rest when compared to normal subjects. Patients with higher GOLD (Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease) classification levels had more severe disease, higher pyruvate and lactic acid levels, and a reduced efficiency energy supply. After treatment, the level of anaerobic metabolites was still higher than the level of aerobic metabolites. In conclusion, this study highlights the significance of high propensity anaerobic and low-efficiency energy supply pathways in lung injury. Dr. Sun said, “The energy metabolism pathway analysis method brings a new perspective to the research field of COPD.”
Dr. Steven R. Goodman, Editor-in-Chief of Experimental Biology & Medicine, said “Dr. Sun and colleagues have utilized metabolomics to study COPD-related energy metabolism pathways. Their seminal results demonstrate the role of anaerobic and low-efficiency energy supply pathways in COPD lung injury.”
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Source: Experimental Biology and Medicine