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Sputum tumour necrosis factor-alpha and leukotriene concentrations in cystic fibrosis.
  1. P Greally,
  2. M J Hussein,
  3. A J Cook,
  4. A P Sampson,
  5. P J Piper,
  6. J F Price
  1. Department of Thoracic Medicine, King's College Hospital, London.


    It is postulated that a vigorous host inflammatory response in the cystic fibrosis lung contributes to lung injury. Tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) may play a part in that process and in the generation of leukotrienes. Therefore, the relationships between sputum TNF-alpha, leukotriene concentration, and lung function abnormalities in 16 children with cystic fibrosis were investigated. Each subject provided sputum samples and performed spirometry. TNF-alpha was measured by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay; individual leukotrienes were separated using high performance liquid chromatography and quantified by radioimmunoassay. The geometric mean concentration of TNF-alpha was 129.7 pg/ml and 95% confidence interval 48.2 to 348.3. Mean (SEM) leukotriene B4 (LTB4) was 97.8 (22.9) pmol/g and total cysteinyl leukotrienes were 60.9 (14.8) pmol/g. Mean (SD) forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) of the group was 53 (15)% of predicted and forced vital capacity (FVC) was 65 (14)% of predicted. There was a significant positive correlation between TNF-alpha and both LTB4 and the total cysteinyl leukotriene sputum content. An inverse relationship existed between TNF-alpha and FEV1 and FVC. Moreover, a negative correlation was observed between sputum LTB4 and FEV1 and FVC. These results suggest that TNF-alpha and the leukotrienes may participate in the airways inflammation and airflow obstruction observed in cystic fibrosis subjects and support the hypothesis that TNF-alpha upregulates the 5-lipoxygenase pathway in vivo.

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