Airway surface pH in subjects with cystic fibrosis.

McShane D, Davies JC, Davies MG, Bush A, Geddes DM, Alton EW

The European Respiratory Journal

Eur Respir J. 2003 Jan;21(1):37-42.

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The cystic fibrosis (CF) transmembrane conductance regulator protein can transport bicarbonate and may therefore regulate airway surface (AS) pH. Disturbances of AS pH could contribute to the pathophysiology of CF lung disease. Five studies were carried out including the following: study 1) nasal pH measurements were made in 25 CF and 10 non-CF adults using an antimony pH probe. Mean nasal pH was significantly lower in the CF group. Nasal potential difference may have been a confounding factor; study 2) in a fresh cohort of CF and non-CF subjects, no significant difference was found between the two groups using a gold pH probe; study 3) simultaneous nasal pH measurements were made in 15 CF and 15 non-CF adults using both probes. In the CF group, there was a trend for the antimony probe to read lower than the gold probe. In the non-CF group, the antimony probe read higher. The pH difference noted in study 1 related to technical factors; study 4) the effect of acute changes in serum acid/base balance on nasal pH was assessed in five non-CF adults. Nasal pH was not altered by either acute respiratory acidosis or alkalosis; study 5) nasal and lower airway pH was measured in five CF and six non-CF children. No difference was found between the groups. There was a correlation between nasal and lower airway pH. The authors conclude that airway surface pH does not differ between cystic fibrosis and noncystic fibrosis subjects and therefore, cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator may not play a major role in airway surface pH in vivo.

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