Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and Barrett's Esophagus (BE), which are prevalent in the World Trade Center (WTC) exposed and general populations, negatively impact quality of life and cost of healthcare. GERD, a risk factor of BE, is linked to obstructive airways disease (OAD). We aim to identify serum biomarkers of GERD/BE, and assess the respiratory and clinical phenotype of a longitudinal cohort of never-smoking, male, WTC-exposed rescue workers presenting with pulmonary symptoms. Biomarkers collected soon after WTC-exposure were evaluated in optimized predictive models of GERD/BE. In the WTC-exposed cohort, the prevalence of BE is at least 6 times higher than in the general population. GERD/BE cases had similar lung function, D LCO, bronchodilator response and long-acting β-agonist use compared to controls. In confounder-adjusted regression models, TNF-α ≥ 6 pg/mL predicted both GERD and BE. GERD was also predicted by C-peptide ≥ 360 pg/mL, while BE was predicted by fractalkine ≥ 250 pg/mL and IP-10 ≥ 290 pg/mL. Finally, participants with GERD had significantly increased use of short-acting β-agonist compared to controls. Overall, biomarkers sampled prior to GERD/BE presentation showed strong predictive abilities of disease development. This study frames future investigations to further our understanding of aerodigestive pathology due to particulate matter exposure.
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