Objectives: We hypothesise that there is an association between an elevated pulmonary artery/aorta (PA/A) and World Trade Center-Lung Injury (WTC-LI). We assessed if serum vascular disease biomarkers were predictive of an elevated PA/A.
Design: Retrospective case-cohort analysis of thoracic CT scans of WTC-exposed firefighters who were symptomatic between 9/12/2001 and 3/10/2008. Quantification of vascular-associated biomarkers from serum collected within 200 days of exposure.
Setting: Urban tertiary care centre and occupational healthcare centre.
Participants: Male never-smoking firefighters with accurate pre-9/11 forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) ≥75%, serum sampled ≤200 days of exposure was the baseline cohort (n=801). A subcohort (n=97) with available CT scans and serum biomarkers was identified. WTC-LI was defined as FEV1≤77% at the subspecialty pulmonary evaluation (n=34) and compared with controls (n=63) to determine the associated PA/A ratio. The subcohort was restratified based on PA/A≥0.92 (n=38) and PA/A<0.92(n=59) to determine serum vascular biomarkers that were predictive of this vasculopathy.
Outcome measures: The primary outcome of this study was to identify a PA/A ratio in a cohort of individuals exposed to WTC dust that was associated with WTC-LI. The secondary outcome was to identify serum biomarkers predictive of the PA/A ratio using logistic regression.
Results: PA/A≥0.92 was associated with WTC-LI, OR of 4.02 (95% CI 1.21 to 13.41; p=0.023) when adjusted for exposure, body mass index and age at CT. Elevated macrophage derived chemokine and soluble endothelial selectin were predictive of PA/A≥0.92, (OR, 95% CI 2.08, 1.05 to 4.11, p=0.036; 1.33, 1.06 to 1.68, p=0.016, respectively), while the increased total plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 was predictive of not having PA/A≥0.92 (OR 0.88, 0.79 to 0.98; p=0.024).
Conclusions: Elevated PA/A was associated with WTC-LI. Development of an elevated PA/A was predicted by biomarkers of vascular disease found in serum drawn within 6 months of WTC exposure. Increased PA/A is a potentially useful non-invasive biomarker of WTC-LI and warrants further study.
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