Quantitative CT Evidence of Airway Inflammation in WTC Workers and Volunteers with Low FVC Spirometric Pattern

Jonathan Weber, Anthony P. Reeves, John T. Doucette, Yunho Jeon, Akshay Sood, Raúl San José Estépar, Juan C. Celedón, Rafael E. de la Hoz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: The most common abnormal spirometric pattern reported in WTC worker and volunteer cohorts has consistently been that of a nonobstructive reduced forced vital capacity (low FVC). Low FVC is associated with obesity, which is highly prevalent in these cohorts. We used quantitative CT (QCT) to investigate proximal and distal airway inflammation and emphysema in participants with stable low FVC pattern. Methods: We selected study participants with at least two available longitudinal surveillance spirometries, and a chest CT with QCT measurements of proximal airway inflammation (wall area percent, WAP), end-expiratory air trapping, suggestive of distal airway obstruction (expiratory to inspiratory mean lung attenuation ratio, MLAEI), and emphysema (percentage of lung volume with attenuation below − 950 HU, LAV%). The comparison groups in multinomial logistic regression models were participants with consistently normal spirometries, and participants with stable fixed obstruction (COPD). Results: Compared to normal spirometry participants, and after adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, BMI, smoking, and early arrival at the WTC disaster site, low FVC participants had higher WAP (ORadj 1.24, 95% CI 1.06, 1.45, per 5% unit), suggestive of proximal airway inflammation, but did not differ in MLAEI, or LAV%. COPD participants did not differ in WAP with the low FVC ones and were more likely to have higher MLAEI or LAV% than the other two subgroups. Discussion: WTC workers with spirometric low FVC have higher QCT-measured WAP compared to those with normal spirometries, but did not differ in distal airway and emphysema measurements, independently of obesity, smoking, and other covariates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-563
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • Bronchial diseases
  • Computer assisted image processing
  • Forced vital capacity
  • Multidetector computed tomography
  • Obesity
  • Obstructive airway disease
  • Occupational airways and lung diseases
  • Smoke inhalation injury
  • Spirometry
  • World Trade Center attack 2001


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