Plasma pro-surfactant protein B (pro-SFTPB) levels have recently been shown to predict the development of lung cancer in current and ex-smokers, but the ability of pro-SFTPB to predict measures of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) severity is unknown. We evaluated the performance characteristics of pro-SFTPB as a biomarker of lung function decline in a population of current and ex-smokers.
Plasma pro-SFTPB levels were measured in 2503 current and ex-smokers enrolled in the Pan-Canadian Early Detection of Lung Cancer Study. Linear regression was performed to determine the relationship of pro-SFTPB levels to changes in forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) over a 2-year period as well as to baseline FEV1 and the burden of emphysema observed in computed tomography (CT) scans.
Plasma pro-SFTPB levels were inversely related to both FEV1 % predicted (p=0.024) and FEV1/forced vital capacity (FVC) (p<0.001), and were positively related to the burden of emphysema on CT scans (p<0.001). Higher plasma pro-SFTPB levels were also associated with a more rapid decline in FEV1 at 1 year (p=0.024) and over 2 years of follow-up (p=0.004).
Higher plasma pro-SFTPB levels are associated with increased severity of airflow limitation and accelerated decline in lung function. Pro-SFTPB is a promising biomarker for COPD severity and progression.