Effect of Liuweibuqi capsules on CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells, helper T cells and lung function in patients with stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease complicated with lung Qi deficiency

Cheng-Yang Wang, Huan-Zhang Ding, Xiao Tang, Ze-Geng Li


Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is predicted to become the fifth leading cause of disability and the third leading cause of death around the world by 2020. Though it is potentially treatable and preventable, evidence of brain structural alterations in COPD remains sparse and conflicting. We aim to investigate the effect of Liuweibuqi capsules on CD4+CD25+ Forkhead box protein 3+ (Foxp3+) regulatory T cells (Tregs), helper T cells (Th) and lung function in patients with stable COPD complicated with lung Qi deficiency.
Methods: COPD patients with lung Qi deficiency [458] were assigned into non-smoking COPD (NS-COPD), non-smoking control (NS-control), smoking COPD (S-COPD) and smoking control (S-control) groups, and healthy volunteers [245] into the non-smoking healthy (NSH) and smoking healthy (SH) groups. Levels of inflammatory cytokines were detected by Enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA). Contents of inflammatory cells, inflammatory marker, and CD4+CD25+Fox3+Tregs were measured by flow cytometry. FEV1/FVC (%) and FEV1 (%) were detected by pulmonary function test apparatus. Correlation between FEV1 (%) and Th1, Th2, Th17, Th1/Th2 or CD4+CD25+Fox3+Tregs was analyzed by Spearman rank correlation test. The related factors affecting treatment efficacy was assessed by logistic analysis.
Results: COPD patients and smoking people showed higher level of INF-γ, IL-4, IL-17, Th1, Th2, Th17 and Th1/Th2 but lower level of CD4+CD25+Fox3+Tregs. Liuweibuqi capsules could decrease level of inflammatory cells, cytokines, and markers (especially Th17 and IL-17), and increase level of CD4+CD25+Fox3+Tregs. FEV1 (%) negatively correlated with Th1, Th2, Th17 and Th1/Th2 but positively correlated with CD4+CD25+Fox3+Tregs, and smoking may strengthen their correlation, but Liuweibuqi capsules may weaker their correlation. Levels of inflammatory cytokines, cells, marker, CD4+CD25+Fox3+Tregs, FEV1/FVC (%), FEV1 (%), smoking and Liuweibuqi capsules are factors affecting efficacy.
Conclusions: Taken together, our data support the notion that smoking is an important factor to induce and aggravate COPD. Liuweibuqi capsules could stimulate proliferation of CD4+CD25+Fox3+Tregs and decrease Th17 expression to improve the lung function in stable COPD patients with lung Qi deficiency, and it had obvious efficacy for smoking COPD patients.