Blood and Salivary Amphiregulin Levels as Biomarkers for Asthma
Mahmood Y. Hachim, Mahmood Y. Hachim
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Background: Amphiregulin (AREG) expression in asthmatic airways and sputum was shown to increase and correlate with asthma. However, no studies were carried out to evaluate the AREG level in blood and saliva of asthmatic patients. Objective: To measure circulating AREG mRNA and protein concentrations in blood, saliva, and bronchial biopsies samples from asthmatic patients. Methods: Plasma and Saliva AREG protein concentrations were measured using ELISA while PBMCs, and Saliva mRNA expression was measured by RT qPCR in non-severe, and severe asthmatic patients compared to healthy controls. Primary asthmatic bronchial epithelial cells and fibroblasts were assessed for AREG mRNA expression and released soluble AREG in their conditioned media. Tissue expression of AREG was evaluated using immunohistochemistry of bronchial biopsies from asthmatic patients and healthy controls. Publicly available transcriptomic databases were explored for the global transcriptomic profile of bronchial epithelium, and PBMCs were explored for AREG expression in asthmatic vs. healthy controls. Results: Asthmatic patients had higher AREG protein levels in blood and saliva compared to control subjects. Higher mRNA expression in saliva and primary bronchial epithelial cells plus higher AREG immunoreactivity in bronchial biopsies were also observed. Both blood and saliva AREG levels showed positive correlations with allergic rhinitis status, atopy status, eczema status, plasma periostin, neutrophilia, Montelukast sodium use, ACT score, FEV1, and FEV1/FVC. In silico analysis showed that severe asthmatic bronchial epithelium with high AREG gene expression is associated with higher neutrophils infiltration. Conclusion: AREG levels measured in a minimally invasive blood sample and a non-invasive saliva sample are higher in non-allergic severe asthma.