RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES: The relationship between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and atherosclerosis has been suggested; this association may relate to systemic inflammation and endothelial dysfunction, which can lead to alteration of small pulmonary vessels. The relationship between atherosclerosis and small pulmonary vessel alteration, however, has not been assessed in COPD patients. We tested the hypothesis that the severity of thoracic aortic calcification measured by computed tomography (CT) would be associated with the total cross-sectional area of small pulmonary vessels (CSA) on CT images. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study was approved by the institutional review board and was Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant. Informed consent was waived. For 51 COPD patients enrolled in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Lung Tissue Research Consortium, we calculated the percentage of total CSAs of less than 5 mm(2) for the total lung area (%CSA<5). Thoracic aortic calcification, quantified by modified Agatston score, was measured. The correlations between thoracic aortic calcification score and %CSA<5, pulmonary function, and extent of emphysema were evaluated. Multiple linear regression analysis using aortic calcification score as the dependent outcome was also performed. RESULTS: The %CSA<5 had a significant negative correlation with the thoracic aortic calcification score (r = -0.566, P < .0001). Multiple linear regression analysis showed significant correlation between the aortic calcification score and %CSA<5 (P < .0001) independent of age, pack-years, extent of emphysema, and FEV1%. CONCLUSIONS: Atherosclerosis, assessed by aortic calcification, is associated with the small pulmonary vascular alteration in COPD. Systemic inflammation and endothelial dysfunction may cause the close relationship between atherosclerosis and small pulmonary vessel alteration.
RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES: There are limited data on, and controversies regarding gender differences in the airway dimensions of smokers. Multi-detector CT (MDCT) images were analyzed to examine whether gender could explain differences in airway dimensions of anatomically matched airways in smokers.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We used VIDA imaging software to analyze MDCT scans from 2047 smokers (M:F, 1021:1026) from the COPDGene® cohort. The airway dimensions were analyzed from segmental to subsubsegmental bronchi. We compared the differences of luminal area, inner diameter, wall thickness, wall area percentage (WA%) for each airway between men and women, and multiple linear regression including covariates (age, gender, body sizes, and other relevant confounding factors) was used to determine the predictors of each airway dimensions.
RESULTS: Lumen area, internal diameter and wall thickness were smaller for women than men in all measured airway (18.4 vs 22.5 mm(2) for segmental bronchial lumen area, 10.4 vs 12.5 mm(2) for subsegmental bronchi, 6.5 vs 7.7 mm(2) for subsubsegmental bronchi, respectively p < 0.001). However, women had greater WA% in subsegmental and subsubsegmental bronchi. In multivariate regression, gender remained one of the most significant predictors of WA%, lumen area, inner diameter and wall thickness.
CONCLUSION: Women smokers have higher WA%, but lower luminal area, internal diameter and airway thickness in anatomically matched airways as measured by CT scan than do male smokers. This difference may explain, in part, gender differences in the prevalence of COPD and airflow limitation.