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Oxidative enzyme activities of the vastus lateralis muscle and the functional status in patients with COPD


BACKGROUND Enzymatic and histochemical abnormalities of the peripheral muscle may play a role in exercise intolerance in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A study was undertaken to measure the mitochondrial enzyme activity of the vastus lateralis muscle in patients with COPD and to evaluate the relationship between enzyme activities and functional status.

METHODS Fifty seven patients with COPD of mean (SD) age 66 (7) years with forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) 39 (15)% predicted and peak oxygen uptake (V˙o 2) of 14 (4) ml/min/kg and 15 normal subjects of similar age were included in the study. Each subject performed a stepwise exercise test up to maximal capacity during which five-breath averages of V˙o 2were measured. Muscle specimens were obtained by percutaneous needle biopsy of the vastus lateralis muscle and the activity of two mitochondrial enzymes (citrate synthase (CS) and 3-hydroxyacyl CoA dehydrogenase (HADH)) was measured. The functional status of the patients was classified according to peakV˙o 2.

RESULTS CS and HADH activities were markedly reduced in patients with COPD compared with normal subjects (22.3 (2.7) versus 29.5 (7.3) μmol/min/g muscle (p<0.0001) and 5.1 (2.0) versus 6.7 (1.9) μmol/min/g muscle (p<0.005), respectively). The activity of CS decreased progressively with the deterioration in the functional status while that of HADH was not related to functional status. Using a stepwise regression analysis, percentage predicted functional residual capacity (FRC), the activity of CS, oxygen desaturation during exercise, age, and inspiratory capacity (% pred) were found to be significant determinants of peakV˙o 2. The regression model explained 59% of the variance in peak V˙o 2 (p<0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS The oxidative capacity of the vastus lateralis muscle is reduced in patients with moderate to severe COPD compared with normal subjects of similar age. In these individuals the activity of CS correlated significantly with peak exercise capacity and independently of lung function impairment.

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • exercise
  • oxidative enzymes

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