Metabolomic Analysis by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy as a New Approach to Understanding Inflammation and Monitoring of Pharmacological Therapy in Children and Young Adults With Cystic Fibrosis

Paolo Montuschi, Vincenzina Lucidi, Debora Paris, Enza Montemitro, Rugia Shohreh, Nadia Mores, Dominique Melck, Giuseppe Santini, Fabio Majo, Andrea Motta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


15-F2t-Isoprostane, a reliable biomarker of oxidative stress, has been found elevated in exhaled breath condensate (EBC), a non-invasive technique for sampling of airway secretions, in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). Azithromycin has antioxidant properties in experimental models of CF, but its effects on oxidative stress in CF patients are largely unknown. Primary objective of this pilot, proof-of-concept, prospective, parallel group, pharmacological study, was investigating the potential antioxidant effects of azithromycin in CF patients as reflected by EBC 15-F2t-isoprostane. Secondary objectives included studying the effect of azithromycin on EBC and serum metabolic profiles, and on serum 15-F2t-isoprostane. In CF patients who were on maintenance treatment with oral vitamin E (200 UI once daily), treatment with oral azithromycin (250 or 500 mg depending on body weight) plus vitamin E (400 UI once daily) (group A) (n = 24) or oral vitamin E alone (400 UI once daily) (group B) (n = 21) was not associated with changes in EBC 15-F2t-isoprostane concentrations compared with baseline values after 8-weeks treatment or 2 weeks after treatment suspension. There was no between-group difference in post-treatment EBC 15-F2t-isoprostane. Likewise, no within- or between-group differences in serum 15-F2t-isoprostane concentrations were observed in either study group. NMR spectroscopy-based metabolomics of EBC shows that suspension of both azithromycin plus vitamin E and vitamin E alone has a striking effect on metabolic profiles in EBC. Between-group comparisons show that EBC metabolite distribution after treatment and 2 weeks after treatment suspension is different. Quantitative differences in ethanol, saturated fatty acids, acetate, acetoin/acetone, and methanol are responsible for these differences. Our study was unable to show antioxidant effect of azithromycin as add-on treatment with doubling the dose of oral vitamin E as reflected by 15-F2t-isoprostane concentrations in EBC. Add-on therapy with azithromycin itself does not induce EBC metabolite changes, but its suspension is associated with EBC metabolic profiles that are different from those observed after vitamin E suspension. The pathophysiological and therapeutic implications of these findings in patients with stable CF are unknown and require further research. Preliminary data suggest that EBC NMR-based metabolomics might be used for assessing the effects of pharmacological treatment suspension in stable CF patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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