Objectives: The effect of hypoxic relapse of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) on lung adenosine triphosphate (ATP) concentration was studied measuring ATP in exhaled breath condensate (EBC). Subjects: Thirty COPD patients with severe exacerbation, thirteen healthy non-smokers and thirteen healthy smokers. Methods: ATP was detected using a luciferin-luciferase assay, dilution of airway droplets in EBC was assessed measuring sample conductivity. Results: ATP concentrations were similar in COPD patients, non-smoking and smoking healthy individuals (141 ± 44, 115 ± 21 and 90 ± 15 pM; p = 0.66). After treatment oxygenation of COPD patients improved (6.85 ± 1.29 kPa vs 8.20 ± 1.28 kPa, p <0.001), but EBC ATP concentration was similar to that of admission (p = 0.84). There was no correlation between EBC ATP concentration and airway droplet dilution. Conclusion: ATP detected in EBC indicates the presence of ATP in airway lining fluid. Lack of difference in ATP concentration between health and COPD suggests that airway ATP level is under complex control of multiple factors.
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