Symptoms And Treatments In Cystic Fibrosis


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is one of the most common genetically inherited diseases which can cause premature death in western populations, with 1 in 2000-3000 new born infants being found to be influenced by Cystic fibrosis in European countries [1]. The disease is brought on by defective chloride ion channels along the epithelial membrane of the lungs, pancreas and other organs; although there are several hypotheses concerning how this dysfunction specifically offers rise to the typical symptoms. The complications associated with the disease are varied, the most significant being the build up of abnormally solid extra mucus which can cause impaired function of the lungs and other major organs. Luckily for us research into new treatments has significantly improved the life expectancy of men and women experiencing this disease.

This essay talks about the causes


The name 'cystic fibrosis' identifies the era of cysts in the pancreas and the formation of excess fibrous connective structure in the lungs.

The organs which undergo the most damage consequently of this disease will be the lungs and the pancreas; although a variety of other organs are also afflicted.

The first medical identification of cystic fibrosis didn't take place until the 1930's when its symptoms were observed and characterised by Dr. Dorothy Anderson. The recessive character of the condition was affirmed in the mid-forties after a study involving over one hundred families; even though the defective gene that causes the condition wasn't isolated for another forty years when it was uncovered in 1989 by reverse genetics. After the discovery in the forties general understanding of the disease increased progressively over another couple of years with a major clinical improvements in diagnostics taking place in the fifties with the development of the perspiration test.

As cystic fibrosis is the result of an autosomal recessive disorder, the patient must of inherited two copies of the mutated gene (one from each parent) to become affected by the disease. The mutation occurs in one gene on chromosome 7. This defective gene leads to the development of a defective cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) proteins. In healthy people the CFTR proteins form ion channels to transport chlorine ions over the epithelial membrane of the lungs, pancreas, sweat glands and other organs. Additionally it is thought to regulate the activity of other chlorine-selective channels plus some cation-selective (sodium ion) channels. Ions can then go through these channels therefore maintaining this probable of the skin cells. Once the fine balance of ion awareness is influenced less water can pass across the epithelial membrane by osmosis leading to unwanted and highly viscous mucus to build up in the damaged organs, resulting in severe long-term respiratory and digestive problems.

The individuals lungs are adapted for use in aerobic respiration by giving a thin, moist surface for gas exchange to occur between the pulmonary arteries and the exterior environment. For gas exchange to be effective the respiratory surface must adhere to Fick's regulation which requires that the top area is large, moist and thin to improve permeability. The causing fibrosis brought on by the disease greatly influences the permeability of the lungs and hence reduces their convenience of gas exchange.

Molecular mechanisms

There are over 1500 types of mutation which can result in a defect in the CFTR health proteins, the most frequent of which is a deletion of phenylalanine at position 508 (Л† F508) which May be the cause of around two-thirds of CF cases. The mutations are categorised into six classes dependant on their effect on the resulting functionality of the CFTR programs, ranging from reduced to complete non-function.

Class I, II and III mutations all cause the lack or substantial reduction of functional CFTR. Class I mutations result in a complete lack of protein production anticipated to early stop codons arising in the hereditary code whereas school II mutations create a protein that doesn't fold properly and so is subsequently degraded by the cell. In the category III mutation having less effective binding with ATP molecules leads to the defective regulation of CFTR and so again is labeled as being non-functional. Classes IV and V still permit the development of practical CFTR albeit with minimal capacity for chloride ion transport or with reduced production of useful CFTR generally speaking due to promoter mutations that lower transcription [2]. Class VI mutations also produce practical CFTR although its degradation is greatly accelerated. The F508 deletion ends up with a school II mutation.

There are four main hypotheses as to how this faulty gene triggers disease though it is not known if the disease is brought on by one or a mixture these hypotheses. Two of these, the low volume level and high salt hypotheses, give a detailed information of the complications that arise because of this of faulty CFTR by firmly taking into consideration the structure of airway surface liquid (ASL).

Low volume hypothesis

In the case of the low level hypothesis it was postulated that there is little to no difference in the sodium attentiveness of ASL between healthy people and those suffering from cystic fibrosis.

This hypothesis shows that the symptoms of cystic fibrosis are the effect of a dysfunction of the CFTR gene resulting in damaged or inadequate sodium ion stations. The damage caused is ergogenic and reduces the inhibition of the ion channels leading to the excessive motion of sodium ions from the ASL into the airways. The increased concentration of positively recharged sodium ions in the airways then drives the absorption of chlorine ions and water, reducing the volume of ASL and dehydrating mucus. The dehydrated mucus becomes highly viscous and the cilia present on epithelial skin cells which are used to aid the clearance of mucus and to increase lung surface become compressed by the mucosal build-up. This compression of cilia inhibits the clearance of mucus which in turn continues to develop, further reducing the lung surface area. The excess mucus can also form hypoxic niches that can harbour colonies of pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Build up of mucus literally reduces the lung surface area impacting on the efficiency of gas exchange. The mucus build-up also escalates the compression of cilia on epithelial skin cells which inhibits clearance by cilia and coughing.

High sodium hypothesis

The high sodium hypothesis assumes that the airway surface liquid of healthy individuals has a relatively low salt focus when compared to the ASL of cystic fibrosis victims. It suggests that the symptoms of the disease are triggered by the disruption or complete lack of CFTR function which in turn causes excess sodium and chloride ions to be retained in the ASL. This increased retention of chloride ions contributes to the ASL having an abnormally adversely charged structure. This abnormality impairs the activity of the body's natural bactericidal enzymes such as lysozyme which rely on electrostatic connections to add to the bacterial cell walls; thus allowing bacterial infection to persist in the hypoxic niches created within the lungs.

Abnormally high inflammation

It has been speculated that the defective CFTR itself may be the reason for excessive inflammation in the airways. However there is limited evidence to claim that the defective CFTR is a reason behind excessive inflammation in itself but rather which it inhibits the rules of autophagy. Autophagy is the procedure by which faulty protein are degraded in order to maintain the total amount between your recycling and synthesis of cellular products, for example the degradation of defective CFTR by the skin cells own lysosomes. Research suggests that huge amounts of faulty CFTR inhibits autophagy, resulting in a build up of aggresomes which can cause inflammation in the lungs [3]. The resulting inflammation is what gives go up to the quality scarring of lung structure.

CFTR bind with P. Aeruginosa

Chronic infection is common between all cystic fibrosis victims, specifically the bacterial species pseudomonas aeruginosa which binds quickly to the CFTR health proteins. In healthy people the body initiates an immune system response in order to battle off chlamydia. In cystic fibrosis suffers you can find enhanced binding between p. Aeruginosa and the CFTR proteins, the bacterium is also able to bind without initiating an immune response. The compromised immune response coupled with reduced ability to clear mucus scheduled to compressed cilia further escalates the risk of severe illness.


Visible characteristics typical amidst suffers include a marginally meagre appearance anticipated to inefficient absorption of nutrition and the famously salty perspiration used to verify CF analysis. Low levels of oxygen in the tissue anticipated to impaired gas exchange between your lungs and the blood vessels can cause clubbing of the hands and toes

Salty sweat

The salty sweating associated with the disease like so a lot of its symptoms is again triggered by faulty CFTR present on the sweating ducts. As sodium ions leave the perspiration ducts through ion programs chloride ions follow through them through the CFTR health proteins stations. However, in cystic fibrosis patients dysfunctional CFTR stations prevent the outward flow of chloride ions from the sweat ducts. The ensuing high chloride ion amount in sweating ducts creates an electrochemical gradient which "pulls" more favorably billed sodium ions into the ducts where in fact the ions combine to create sodium (NaCl). The salt is then secreted through pores in your skin leading to very salty sweat as hardly any NaCl is reabsorbed. Salt sweat concentration in excess of 60mEq/L is normally considered significant enough to make a medical diagnosis, although further test may be needed.

Although poor expansion can pose its own health threats the most severe symptoms are triggered by the diseases capacity to damage the inner organs.


CF is commonly referred to as an exocrine disorder indicating the producing dysfunction influences glands which secrete their products through a duct to the top of body or of an organ, sweat glands and pancreatic ducts as an example of this. However some issues can happen in your body's endocrine glands, glands which secrete their product directly into the bloodstream. Disorders of the endocrine glands have a tendency to influence the secretion of hormones. Damage to the islets of langerhans within the pancreas can impair the secretion of insulin which can eventually lead to CF related diabetes.


Lungs will be the predominant way to obtain infection, vulnerable to different varieties of bacteria although P. Aeruginosa becomes predominant; eventually these bacterial colonies form a biofilm which is difficult to eliminate with antibiotic treatments. The thickening of mucus creates environmental niche categories suited to harbouring bacteria. High degrees of infection bring about an inflammatory response which frequently leads to intensive injury and scarring regarded as the characteristic fibrosis of the lungs. The resulting fibrosis damages the epithelium of the lungs, making gas-exchange inefficient. Solid mucus also bodily reduces the surface area

Implications for other organs

The lungs aren't really the only organs that suffer harm consequently of cystic fibrosis

Diverse selection of other organs influenced, most these form a part of the alimentary system

Lacking digestive enzymes in the intestines - Lack of these intestinal enzymes impair patients' ability to breakdown and for that reason absorb their food. This generally results in poor growth but in acute cases can cause severe malnutrition.

Alimentary system - all intestinal systems

The formation of cysts blocks ducts in the liver and pancreas avoiding the secretion of essential digestive enzymes and hormones.

Blocked ducts prevent secretion of enzymes/hormones?

Mainly the pancreas which influences absorption of nutrients and can lead to poor progress in suffers

Blockage of ducts in the liver

New born newborns can have problems with meconium ileus, an incapability to go away their first faeces (meconium). The ensuing ileus can cause blockages in the intestines that can cause rectal prolapse due to the strain involved with producing a bowel movement. Common organizations between instances of meconium ileus and CF resulted in it being used as a postnatal diagnostic strategy.

Excess viscous mucus isn't only an issue in the lungs. Organs of the alimentary system can be affected. Heavy mucus can stop pancreatic ducts avoiding the secretion of vital digestive enzymes into the duodenum. The body is then unable to effectively extract nutrition from the ingested foods. Malabsorption is a common symptom of CF generally resulting in poor growth but in acute cases can cause severe malnutrition.

Fertility problems

Fertility problems related to CF usually happen before delivery whilst the foetus continues to be developing.

Blocking of or complete absence of the connective tube (vas deferens) between your testes and ejaculatory ducts in men means that although they aren't sterile they cannot conceive children by traditional intercourse. In women heavy mucus can cause blockages in the cervix or their ovulation circuit may be disrupted malnutrition consequently of CF related enzyme deficiencies. More than 95% of males with CF are infertile.

Percentage of CF infertile - source world health organisation


Unfortunately there happens to be no treat for CF however there are several treatments that can reduce a few of the symptoms from the disease, like the use of hypertonic saline and enzyme replacement. Treatments such as gene therapy are more geared towards creating a long term treatment for CF, although at this moment in time the technology is not perfected.

Pharmacological treatments

Fortunately the CFTR's are not the sole chloride ion stations on lung surface epithelium. Certain drugs can encourage these other programs. Rcjournal.

Stimulate the discharge of calcium mineral or inhibit sodium programs to offset negative effects of whatever hypothesis.

Hypertonic saline

Major difficulties of CF stem from the imbalance in ion concentrations caused by the faulty CFTR gene. Out of this knowledge a type of treatments were developed to be able to revive the ionic imbalance and hence enhance the body's capability to clear thick mucus from the lungs. The solution would need to be considered a sterile solution; high in salts that could be inhaled to replace the ions which weren't being carried over the CFTR channels. The solution, hyper tonic saline, is a cheap and effective treatment for lowering the viscosity of mucus in the lungs. After it is inhaled the perfect solution is functions by creating an osmotic gradient, sketching water into the airways, rehydrating the mucus leading to blockages and reducing its viscosity hence which makes it better to cleared and coughed up.

Enzyme replacement

Enzymes can be *injected* to revive the deficiency created by blockages of pancreatic ducts. Patients going through enzyme replacement remedy can get to see improvements in growth, weight gain and general health as many health issues arise from poor absorption of nutrients. Nutritional supplements can also be taken to replace those not being consumed normally.

Important short term treatments are presenting nutritional supplements to sufferers to alleviate malnourishment and promote healthy growth

Nutritional programs generally involve high calorie diets rich in vitamin supplements such as vitamin supplements D to build up strong bones preventing osteoporosis.

Gene therapy

Soon following the breakthrough of the faulty gene in 1989 efforts were invested in finding a therapy that could target the disease at its hereditary roots. Discovery of a highly effective approach to gene remedy would open a online goldmine in treating not only cystic fibrosis but also other hereditary diseases.

One of the existing gene therapy techniques for the treatment of CF involves the use of adenoviruses having vectors containing corrected copies of the CFTR gene.

The adenoviruses hold double stranded DNA which is deposited in the nucleus of the variety cell and then transcribed just as as the number cells own DNA. However, as this is an example of somatic gene therapy, the DNA of the adenovirus won't integrate with the variety genome and the gene will not continue being expressed after cellular division. This means the effects are not permanent and patients will require subsequent treatments to keep the effect. There are of course hazards from the use of trojans to incorporate efficient DNA. Even though the viruses getting used are non-pathogenic the existence of a international body can still start an immune response; the causing inflammation can be dangerous for patients who are already at risky of extreme inflammation scheduled to immunocomprimisation. An alternative solution to adenoviruses are adeno-associated viruses (AAV). AAV vectors are non-pathogenic and have been shown to have a lower prevalence to neutralising antibodies when compared to adenoviruses in vitro [4]. Nonetheless they do have a relatively small genome of ~4. 8 kilobases, with most gene treatments demanding the complete replacement unit of the viral genome.

As due to this, research is being targeted towards more effective means of gene remedy with exams being completed with AAV and lipid-vectors. There is a trade off between your effectiveness of the method used to induce the vector. Viral vectors are far better at integrating the vector into the host DNA in comparison to lipid vectors, but you have the increased threat of an immune system response.

Lung transplant

In the most severe circumstances where patients are suffering from chronic contamination lung transplants can be carried out where appropriate. In these cases both lungs need to be transplanted in order to avoid the new lung from being polluted by existing bacterial populations presently present in the individual.


Antibiotics have a tendency to be utilized prophylacticaly as a pre-emptive measure for preventing infection.

One common type of drugs found in treatments are macrolide antibiotics - can suppress obstructive secretions in airways

The macrolide antibiotics work by binding to the 50s subunit of the bacterial ribosome, thereby inhibiting protein synthesis.


The overall prospect for patients with CF has improved upon dramatically within the last eighty years since the first clinical acknowledgement in the 1930's. A larger knowledge of genetics has increased both the fields of medical diagnostics and treatments. The future of treatments items towards gene remedy, we now have the technology to do this but further research is required to overcome the major obstacles such as more efficient copy and getting the gene manifestation to last longer.

[*http://www. who. int/genomics/public/geneticdiseases/en/index2. html#CF]

http://www. medscape. com/viewarticle/576200_2

http://www. nature. com/ncb/journal/v12/n9/full/ncb2090. html

http://www. nature. com/gt/journal/v6/n9/full/3300994a. html

Figure 1. Perspiration chloride concentrations related to cystic fibrosis (CF) examination. Modified and reprinted by agreement from Davis PB. Cystic fibrosis. Pediatr Rev 2001;22:257-264. Figure 1

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