The aim of this study is to investigate the mechanisms that regulate the survival of blood leukocytes as well as the synthesis and release of inflammatory mediators from cells from normal individuals and subjects with COPD. The hypothesis is that in COPD the life-span of leukocytes, such as the neutrophil, is enhanced and this may contribute to inflammation, a prominent characteristic of this disease, by secreting and releasing inflammatory mediators. We also suggest that differences may exist in the sensitivity of the various leukocytes to different therapies.
Leukocytes will be purified from the peripheral venous blood of patients with COPD as well as healthy individuals. We will then investigate the effects of novel and existing therapeutic agents on leukocyte survival and inflammatory mediator synthesis and release. We will also examine the regulation and release of enzymes known to damage lung tissue. Further studies will be carried out to elucidate the signal transduction pathways that lead to the activation, altered longevity and function of leukocytes. In other experiments ribonucleic acids or RNA may be extracted form leukocytes to investigate which genes are involved. The primary objective is to identify the mechanisms that enhance leukocyte longevity and inflammatory mediator and/or enzyme synthesis and release with a view to identifying novel targets for drug therapy.