Is sweat chloride predictive of severity of cystic fibrosis lung disease assessed by chest computed tomography?
Pediatric Pulmonology , Volume 52 - Issue 9 p. 1135- 1141
Background: Cystic Fibrosis (CF) lung disease is characterized by a marked heterogeneity. Sweat chloride-level is a functional marker of the CF Transmembrane Regulator (CFTR) protein and could be an important predictor of later disease severity. Methods: In this retrospective analysis children from the Rotterdam CF clinic with available sweat chloride level at diagnosis and at least one routine spirometry-controlled volumetric chest CT scan in follow-up were included. CT scans were scored using the CF-CT scoring system (% of maximum). Associations between sweat chloride-levels and CF-CT scores were calculated using linear regression models, adjusting for age at sweat test and age at follow-up. Because structural lung damage develops over the course of many years, effect modification by the age at follow-up CT-scan was tested for by age-stratification. Results: In 59 children (30 male) sweat chloride was measured at diagnosis (median age 0.5 years, range 0-13) and later chest CT performed (median age 14 years, range 6-18). Sweat chloride was associated with significantly higher CT-CT total score, bronchiectasis score, and mucus plugging score. Stratification for age at follow-up in tertiles showed this association remained only in the oldest age group (range 15-18 years). In that subgroup associations were found with all but one of the CF-CT subscores, as well as with all tested lung functions parameters. Conclusion: Sweat chloride-level is a significant predictor of CF lung disease severity as determined by chest CT and lung function. This association could only be demonstrated in children with follow-up to age 15 years and above.