Distinct metabolic features in the plasma of patients with silicosis and dust-exposed workers in China: a case-control study

2021-03-17

Background: Silicosis is a progressive pneumoconiosis characterized by interstitial fibrosis following exposure to silica dust. The role of metabolic dysregulation in the pathogenesis of silicosis has not been investigated in detail. This study aimed to identify different metabolic features in the plasma of patients with silicosis and dust-exposed workers without silicosis in metabolomics studies.

Methods: Patients with silicosis, dust-exposed workers (DEWs) without silicosis and age-matched healthy controls were recruited in a case-control study. The metabolomics analyses by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry were conducted. Distinct metabolic features (DMFs) were identified in the pilot study and were validated in the validation study. The enriched signalling pathways of these DMFs were determined. The ability of DMFs to discriminate among the groups was analysed through receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves. The correlations between DMFs and clinical features were also explored.

Results: Twenty-nine DMFs and 9 DMFs were detected and had the same trend in the pilot study and the validation study in the plasma of the DEW and silicosis groups, respectively. Sphingolipid metabolism was the major metabolic pathway in the DEWs, and arginine and proline metabolism was associated with silicosis. Twenty DMFs in the DEWs and 3 DMFs in the patients with silicosis showed a discriminatory ability with ROC curve analysis. The abundance of kynurenine was higher in Stage III silicosis than in Stage I or Stage II silicosis. L-arginine and kynurenine were both negatively correlated with the percentage of forced vital capacity predicted in silicosis.

Conclusions: Distinct metabolic features in the plasma of DEWs and the patients with silicosis were found to be different. Sphingolipid metabolism and arginine and proline metabolism were identified as the major metabolic pathway in the DEW and silicosis groups, respectively. L-arginine and kynurenine were correlated with the severity of silicosis.

Authors: Changjiang Xue, Na Wu, Yali Fan, Jing Ma, Qiao Ye
; Full Source: BMC pulmonary medicine 2021 Mar 17;21(1):91. doi: 10.1186/s12890-021-01462-1.