Heterogeneity of chronic lung allograft dysfunction: Insights from protein expression in broncho alveolar lavage


Stijn E. Verleden, Robin Vos, Veerle Mertens, Anna Willems-Widyastuti, Stéphanie I. De Vleeschauwer, Lieven J. Dupont, Geert M. Verleden, Dirk E. Van Raemdonck, Bart M. Vanaudenaerde


Chronic lung allograft dysfunction (CLAD) remains a major risk factor for death after lung transplantation. Previous data suggested that within CLAD at least 2 phenotypes are present: a neutrophilic type (nCLAD or neutrophilic reversible allograft dysfunction [NRAD]), reversible with azithromycin therapy, vs a low neutrophilic type, non-responsive to azithromycin (fibrotic bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome [fBOS]). We aimed to further characterize this dichotomy by measuring multiple proteins in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid of 28 lung recipients. Patients were retrospectively subdivided by the absence or presence of CLAD and subsequently by their response to azithromycin, resulting in 3 groups: 10 stable, 9 responsive (nCLAD/NRAD), and 9 non-responsive (fBOS). Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was used to measure 32 different proteins. Protein variations were predominantly present in the nCLAD/NRAD group, whereas no differences were observed in the fBOS group compared with control. MCP-1 (p < 0.01), RANTES (p < 0.05), IL-1β (p < 0.01), IL-8 (p < 0.01), TIMP-1 (p < 0.01), MMP-8 (p < 0.01), MMP-9 (p < 0.01), HGF (p < 0.001), MPO (p < 0.01), and bile acid (p < 0.05) concentrations were upregulated in nCLAD/NRAD compared with fBOS, whereas PDGF-AA (p < 0.05) was downregulated. These data provide further evidence that within CLAD there is a heterogeneity of phenotypes with different mechanisms involved. Further investigation is warranted to unravel the pathophysiology of both phenotypes.