A new study found that patients with cystic fibrosis who have a common virus may experience a progression of the disease faster than patients who do not have the virus. The fastest progression signals from cystic fibrosis disease have sometimes included references to lung transplantation and reached the final stages of the disease.
The study analyzed cytomegalovirus, a type of normally harmless herpes virus that often contracted during late adolescence and at the beginning of adulthood. It is estimated that more than 90% of people with 80 years have the virus and usually do not cause symptoms.
Researchers say their findings, which are published in the European Respiratory Journal, suggest that the virus may be an unrecognized contributor of cystic fibrosis, but more research is needed to confirm if the virus causes the disease to progress more quickly.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition that affects the body's ability to control the movement of salt and water between the cells. This can cause a thick mucus accumulation in the lungs, which makes breathing difficult and causes patients to be more likely to develop lung infections. The average duration of cystic fibrosis patients is 37 years and about 0.6% of patients have an organ transplant every year, as it has the potential to prolong their life.
Michael Parkins is an associate professor of medicine, microbiology and infectious diseases at the University of Calgary, Canada, and was one of the leading researchers. He explained: "We already know that cytomegalovirus can impair the health of patients with cystic fibrosis who had a lung transplant, as it may increase the risk of organ rejection, but we know very little about how this virus affects cystic fibrosis pre-transplantation. patients
"There is growing evidence that there has been a connection between the cytomegalovirus and a series of chronic conditions such as Alzheimer's, heart disease and various types of cancer, but to date, no study has analyzed the connection between the virus and the deterioration of chronic respiratory disease ".
The study included 56 patients with cystic fibrosis that were referred to for lung transplantation at the Calgary Adult Cystic Fibrosis Clinic. Of these patients, 30 (54.6%) found positive for cytomegalovirus. The researchers also recorded the sex of the patients, the BMI, the education and the presence of other genetic infections and traits, to evaluate whether these factors were affected when the patients were sent to the transplant or reached the final stages of the cystic fibrosis disease.
The analyzes showed that infection with the virus was the most important factor linked to the progression of the disease. Patients with viruses were sent to lung transplants at a much younger age than patients who had no cytomegalovirus, eight years earlier. Patients with the virus also died ten years earlier than average compared to patients who did not have the virus.
Professor Parkins explained the results: "Cytomegalovirus is usually drowsy in people who have it, but it can become active again and spread more rapidly after infection with other bacteria. We know that patients with cystic fibrosis are more likely to develop pulmonary infections that the repeated cycles of activation of the virus exaggerate the lung damage of the patients, contributing to a faster progression of the disease.
"The association we find does not necessarily mean that the cytomegalovirus causes a faster progression of the disease, but more studies are needed before such a bold statement is made. However, our results indicate that this virus can have an impact on Progression of fibrosis science, potentially leading to pre-transplantation references and even death. "
Researchers say there are a number of cytomegalovirus vaccines that are being investigated in other areas of medicine and that can be tested among cystic fibrosis patients to prevent possible infections.
The research team says there are also several interventions that can be tested to manage the cytomegalovirus among patients with cystic fibrosis. Professor Parkins said: "Treatment may involve regular medications to slow the spread of the virus. Alternatively, treatment can only occur during reactivation, for example after infections or symptoms."
The researchers warn that the study is limited by the small number of patients included that came from only one clinic and the lack of information about the direct cause of death or transplantation among patients.
Professor Tobias Welte of the University of Hannover in Germany is the president of the European Respiratory Society and did not participate in the study. "By means of an improved diagnosis and a medical treatment, the cystic fibrosis is happening of a childhood disease to an adult disease, since the patients live more time. The average life of the people with this disease now is 37". but only 5% of cystic fibrosis patients in Europe have more than 40 years.
"This is an exploratory study that raises an interesting hypothesis, but, due to the limitations of the study, it does not confirm the role of cytomegalovirus in cystic fibrosis. More observational studies are needed to confirm the value of these findings."
Researchers say they are now conducting new research in this area using larger international records and several patient centers.