Early Lung Development Linked to COPD Susceptibility among Smokers and Non-Smokers
June 18, 2020 | Biotechnology
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The results of a study funded in part by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) suggest that abnormal lung development may explain why some non-smokers will develop the debilitating lung disorder chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and some heavy smokers do not. The researchers’ retrospective observational study in more than 6,500 older adults found that people with small airways relative to the size of their lungs may have a lower breathing capacity and, consequently, an increased risk for COPD, even if they don’t smoke or have any other risk factors.
“This work, stemming from the careful analysis of lung images of COPD patients, shows that an abnormal lung development may account for a large proportion of COPD risk among older adults,” said James Kiley, PhD, director of NHLBI’s Division of Lung Diseases. “More research is needed to understand what drives this occurrence and to devise possible interventions.”
Kiley and collaborators reported their findings in JAMA, in a paper titled, “Association of Dysanapsis With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Among Older Adults.”
COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. The disease causes airflow blockage and breathing-related problems that can severely limit a person’s day-to-day activities. Smoking, asthma, and air pollution account for many COPD cases, but up to 30% of cases occur in people who never smoked, and only a minority of heavy smokers develop the disease, suggesting that there are other risk factors at play.
“Smoking tobacco is a major COPD risk factor, but despite decades of declining smoking rates in many countries, the corresponding decreases in disease burden have been modest,” the authors wrote, “Although other factors have been linked to COPD (e.g., second-hand smoke, environmental or occupational pollutants, asthma), much of... Want to read more? You can find the entire article in the GEN – Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News Blog.
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