Rationale: Although emphysema on computed tomography (CT) is associated with increased morbidity and mortality in patients with and without spirometrically defined chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, no available medications target emphysema outside of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Transforming growth factor-β and endothelial dysfunction are implicated in emphysema pathogenesis, and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) inhibit transforming growth factor-β, improve endothelial function, and restore airspace architecture in murine models. Evidence in humans is, however, lacking. Objectives: To determine whether angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor and ARB dose is associated with slowed progression of percent emphysema by CT. Methods: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis researchers recruited participants ages 45-84 years from the general population from 2000 to 2002. Medication use was assessed by medication inventory. Percent emphysema was defined as the percentage of lung regions less than 2950 Hounsfield units on CTs. Mixed-effects regression models were used to adjust for confounders. Results: Among 4,472 participants, 12% used an ACE inhibitor and 6% used an ARB at baseline. The median percent emphysema was 3.0% at baseline, and the rate of progression was 0.64 percentage points over a median of 9.3 years. Higher doses of ACE or ARB were independently associated with a slower change in percent emphysema (P = 0.03). Over 10 years, in contrast to a predicted mean increase in percent emphysema of 0.66 percentage points in those who did not take ARBs or ACE inhibitors, the predicted mean increase in participants who used maximum doses of ARBs or ACE inhibitors was 0.06 percentage points (P = 0.01). The findings were of greatest magnitude among former smokers (P < 0.001). Indications for ACE inhibitor or ARB drugs (hypertension and diabetes) and other medications for hypertension and diabetes were not associated independently with change in percent emphysema. There was no evidence that ACE inhibitor or ARB dose was associated with decline in lung function. Conclusions: In a large population-based study, ACE inhibitors and ARBs were associated with slowed progression of percent emphysema by chest CT, particularly among former smokers. Randomized clinical trials of ACE and ARB agents are warranted for the prevention and treatment of emphysema.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine