Research Group "Lung Epidemiology" - Projects

Metabolomics and Proteomics: association with respiratory health and lung function

The usefulness of large-scale blood biomarkers in detecting new pathways and/or defining subtypes of diseases has been proven in different research areas such as mechanisms of aging, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases. Less is known about the association of lung function and disease on large-scale biomarkers although already classical, simplified subtypes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have been described as “pink puffer” and “blue bloater” both of which are associated with different metabolic states, i.e. a more catabolic state with cachexia or a more obese state, respectively. However, recent studies indicate that COPD is a much more complex, heterogeneous disorder with subgroups for example related to clinical phenotypes, morphological alterations of airway and lung parenchyma, or the progression of the disease. Multiple studies have addressed this heterogeneity based largely on clinical phenotypes, genetic data, or specific blood biomarkers. Our primary goal is to use large-scale metabolomics and/or proteomic data to characterize alterations induced by COPD, determine the changes with progression of disease and foster classification of COPD subtypes to eventually promote personalized therapy, such as targeted anti-inflammatory treatment. Further lung function varies substantially between individuals and lung healthy subjects with poor lung function are at higher risk for lung diseases. Thus, we are also interested to assess the association of lung function with large-scale biomarkers to improve our understanding on mechanisms causing an increased risk and on the transition from heath to early stages of disease. Our specific projects, embedded in international cooperation, are:

  • Association of metabolic markers (Metabolon) with lung function indices and respiratory diseases in population based samples (cooperation ARIC and KORA)

  • Pulmonary proteomics by SomaScan, the current most comprehensive approach for proteomics analysis, lung function and COPD (cooperation COPDGene, SPIROMICS, Framingham heart study, Jackson heart study, Lovelace Smokers Cohort, MESA Lung, KORA)

  • Glycosylation profiling of immunoglobulin G (IgG) in COPD and adult asthmatics in KORA


Study population:

KORA: KORA F4 and follow-up surveys