In asthmatic subjects an imbalance between elastase and α1-antitrypsin (α1-PI) exists. This study aims to evaluate whether ageing per se affects the levels of elastase. Both young and elderly asthmatics with comparable severity and duration of disease, as well as young and elderly healthy subjects, underwent an induced sputum procedure to measure levels of elastase and α1-PI. The percentage of sputum neutrophils and eosinophils was higher in young and elderly asthmatics than in young and elderly controls. The levels of both total and active elastase were significantly higher in young and elderly asthmatics than in young and elderly controls, and directly correlated with the percentage of neutrophils. In addition, in both young and elderly asthmatics the levels of total and active elastase were negatively correlated with forced expiratory volume in one second values, but positively correlated with the duration of the disease. This study indicates that ageing per se does not necessarily lead to a progressive elastase/α1-antitrypsin imbalance in asthma, and suggests that an important variable in the development of airway remodelling in both young and elderly asthmatics is represented by the duration of the disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine