Microparticles (MPs) found in the sputum of COPD patients could reveal the pathogenesis of the disease, according to research published in the International Journal of COPD.

“We investigated the presence and source of MPs in sputum of COPD patients to evaluate if changes in MP number and origin may reflect the pathophysiological conditions of disease and may serve as potential biomarkers for diagnostic and prognostic use,” said scientists from Italy.

In order to investigate, they collected sputum from study participants, isolated MPs, characterized them, and performed a statistical analysis. They identified several findings, and said, “the main result of the present study is the demonstration that in the sputum of patients affected by COPD, it is also possible to detect the presence of MPs.”

Additionally, they found that the phenotype of some of the MPs is related to measures used to identify and evaluate COPD, such as FEV1, BODE index, or the six-minute walking test. “These results, together with other data, suggest that MPs are likely implicated in the pathogenesis of COPD,” they said.