Urinary desmosine: A biomarker of structural lung injury during CF pulmonary exacerbation

Theresa A. Laguna*, Brandie D. Wagner, Barry Starcher, Heidi K. Luckey Tarro, Shelley A. Mann, Scott D. Sagel, Frank J. Accurso

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Rationale Cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease is characterized by structural changes and remodeling in airway architecture and lung parenchyma. Neutrophilic inflammation and infection lead to injury and breakdown of airway matrix constituents, including elastin. The non-invasive measurement of urinary desmosine (UDes), a breakdown product of elastin, may be reflective of ongoing lung injury and may serve as a biomarker of active short-term damage during pulmonary exacerbation. Our objectives were to measure desmosine in the urine of CF patients hospitalized for treatment of a pulmonary exacerbation and to explore the correlation between desmosine concentration and other markers of clinical improvement, including lung function and inflammatory mediators. Methods Urine and blood samples plus lung function measurements were collected at up to three points during hospitalization for treatment of a CF pulmonary exacerbation. We used a repeated measures model, adjusted for age and time between measurements, to compare log transformed urine desmosine concentrations across multiple time points and to correlate those concentrations with related clinical variables. Change in UDes concentration was investigated using a statistical model that incorporated normalization factors to account for variations in urinary concentration. Results Desmosine was measured by radioimmunoassay (RIA) in 155 spot urine samples from 53 CF patients hospitalized for 63 pulmonary exacerbations (range of results: 0-235 pmol Des/ml). Specific gravity (SG) adjusted UDes concentration decreased significantly during admission for CF pulmonary exacerbation, P < 0.01 (average length of stay = 11 days). No correlation was observed between UDes concentration and lung function or inflammatory markers. Conclusions UDes decreased significantly following treatment for an acute pulmonary exacerbation and may be a useful biomarker of short-term injury to the CF lung. Further investigation is needed to evaluate the utility of UDes concentration in the long-term progression of CF lung disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)856-863
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Pulmonology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • airway
  • elastin breakdown
  • inflammation
  • matrix

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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