Background and objective: 25-Hydroxycholesterol (25-HC) is produced from cholesterol by the enzyme cholesterol 25-hydroxylase and is associated with atherosclerosis of vessels. Recently, 25-HC was reported to cause inflammation in various types of tissues. The aim of this study was to assess the production of 25-HC in the airways and to elucidate the role of 25-HC in neutrophil infiltration in the airways of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Methods: Eleven control never-smokers, six control ex-smokers without COPD and 13 COPD patients participated in the lung tissue study. The expression of cholesterol 25-hydroxylase in the lung was investigated. Twelve control subjects and 17 patients with COPD also participated in the sputum study. The concentrations of 25-HC in sputum were quantified by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry analysis. To elucidate the role of 25-HC in neutrophilic inflammation of the airways, the correlation between 25-HC levels and neutrophil counts in sputum was investigated. Results: The expression of cholesterol 25-hydroxylase was significantly enhanced in lung tissue from COPD patients compared with that from control subjects. Cholesterol 25-hydroxylase was localized in alveolar macrophages and pneumocytes of COPD patients. The concentration of 25-HC in sputum was significantly increased in COPD patients and was inversely correlated with percent of predicted forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume in 1 s and diffusing capacity of carbon monoxide. The concentrations of 25-HC in sputum were significantly correlated with sputum interleukin-8 levels and neutrophil counts. Conclusions: 25-HC production was enhanced in the airways of COPD patients and may play a role in neutrophilic inflammation. The expression of cholesterol 25-hydroxylase was up-regulated in the lungs of COPD patients. There was excessive production of 25-hydroxycholesterol in the airways of COPD patients and 25-hydroxycholesterol concentrations in the airways were associated with reduced lung function, elevated neutrophil counts and high IL-8 levels in sputum.
- cholesterol 25-Hydroxylase
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease