A high level of extracellular matrix (ECM) turnover characterizes several lung diseases with fibrotic features. Type III collagen is one of the most abundant collagens in lung parenchyma, and cathepsins play a role in lung pathology, being responsible for tissue remodeling. In this study, we explore the diagnostic features of neo-epitope fragments of type III collagen generated by cathepsins that could reflect the pathological tissue turnover in patients with different diseases. A novel enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) measuring cathepsins B, L, S and K -generated type III collagen fragments (C3C) was developed for assessment in serum and plasma. The assay was biologically validated in serum from patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Serological levels of C3C were significantly elevated in patients with COPD compared to healthy controls (p = 0.0006). Levels of C3C in serum and heparin plasma of COPD patients had a highly significant correlation (R2 = 0.86, p\u003c0.0001). The data suggests that the C3C fragment is elevated in patients with COPD compared to healthy controls.
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