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Free Content Pathogenesis of COPD. Part II. Oxidative-antioxidative imbalance [State of the Art Series. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in high- and low-income countries. Edited by G. Marks and M. Chan-Yeung. Number 3 in the series]

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) represents a serious global health problem that affects the aged. This State of the Art article summarises previous studies on oxidative-antioxidative imbalance in patients with stable COPD or in acute exacerbations. Recent literature in this field reports conflicting findings. Several studies on markers of oxidative stress have demonstrated increased production of oxidants in exhaled air, breath condensates or induced sputum. The primary defence against oxidants is endogenous antioxidants, which are altered in COPD. Some studies have demonstrated a marked decrease in plasma antioxidant capacity, while other studies have shown opposite findings. A few studies have shown higher erythrocyte superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity in COPD patients and healthy smokers than those in healthy non-smokers. In contrast, we found no differences in erythrocyte SOD activity and elevated erythrocyte catalase activity in Chinese patients with COPD compared with healthy smokers matched for age and pack-years smoked. Possible reasons for such discrepancies could be related to differences in inter-individual variations in antioxidant capacity as a result of different populations and also differences in methodologies between studies.

Keywords: antioxidant; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; oxidant; oxidative stress

Document Type: Invited Paper

Affiliations: Division of Respiratory Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

Publication date: 2008-04-01

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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