Although the activity of nitric oxide (NO) synthases are increased in lung tissue of patients with cystic fibrosis, the concentrations of nasal and exhaled NO have recently been found to be decreased in cystic fibrosis. This could either be due to reduced NO formation or metabolism of NO within airway fluids. In this study, the stable NO metabolites, nitrate and nitrite, were determined in the saliva and sputum of 18 stable cystic fibrosis patients, 21 cystic fibrosis patients during a pulmonary exacerbation, and in saliva and endotracheal secretions of normal controls. Median saliva concentrations of NO metabolites (nitrate plus nitrite) were 704 μmol/l (95% confidence interval (CI) 419 to 1477) in stable cystic fibrosis patients, 629 μmol/l (95% CI 382 to 1392) in cystic fibrosis patients presenting with pulmonary exacerbation, and 313 μmol/l (95% CI 312 to 454) in controls. Median sputum NO metabolite concentration in stable cystic fibrosis was 346 μmol/l (95% CI 311 to 504). This was not significantly different from cystic fibrosis patients presenting with pulmonary exacerbation (median 184 μmol/l, 95% CI 249 to 572), but significantly higher than in endotracheal secretions of controls (median 144 μmol/l, 95% CI 96 to 260). Sputum NO metabolite concentration in cystic fibrosis pulmonary exacerbation significantly increased during antibiotic treatment. A positive correlation was observed between sputum NO metabolites and lung function in stable cystic fibrosis, suggesting less airway NO formation in cystic fibrosis patients with more severe lung disease. These data indicate that decreased exhaled NO concentrations in cystic fibrosis patients may be due to retention and metabolism of NO within the airway secretions. However, sputum NO metabolites are not a useful marker of airway inflammation in cystic fibrosis lung disease.
- cystic fibrosis
- lung inflammation
- nitric oxide
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