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Thorax 62:1064-1068 doi:10.1136/thx.2006.076877
  • Lung function

Systemic inflammation and lung function in young adults

  1. Robert J Hancox1,
  2. Richie Poulton1,
  3. Justina M Greene2,
  4. Susan Filsell1,
  5. Christene R McLachlan1,
  6. Finn Rasmussen3,
  7. D Robin Taylor4,
  8. Michael J A Williams4,
  9. Avis Williamson1,
  10. Malcolm R Sears2
  1. 1
    Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  2. 2
    Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health, St. Joseph’s Healthcare and Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3
    Department of Respiratory Diseases, Aarhus Community Hospital, Aarhus University, Denmark
  4. 4
    Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  1. Dr Robert J Hancox, Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand; bob.hancox{at}otago.ac.nz
  • Received 22 December 2006
  • Accepted 26 May 2007
  • Published Online First 29 June 2007

Abstract

Background: Impaired lung function is associated with systemic inflammation and is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in older adults. It is unknown when these associations emerge and to what extent they are mediated by smoking, chronic airways disease, and/or established atherosclerosis. We explored the association between the forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and the systemic inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) in young adults.

Methods: Associations between spirometric lung function and blood CRP were assessed in a population based birth cohort of approximately 1000 New Zealanders at ages 26 and 32 years. Analyses adjusted for height and sex to account for differences in predicted lung function and excluded pregnant women.

Results: There were significant inverse associations between FEV1 and CRP at both ages. Similar results were found for the forced vital capacity. These associations were similar in men and women and were independent of smoking, asthma, and body mass index.

Conclusions: Reduced lung function is associated with systemic inflammation in young adults. This association is not related to smoking, asthma, or obesity. The reasons for the association are unexplained, but the findings indicate that the association between lower lung function and increased inflammation predates the development of either chronic lung disease or clinically significant atherosclerosis. The association between poor lung function and cardiovascular disease may be mediated by an inflammatory mechanism.

Footnotes

  • Abbreviations:
    BMI
    body mass index
    CRP
    C-reactive protein
    FEV1
    forced expiratory volume in one second
    FVC
    forced vital capacity
    IQR
    interquartile range