Background: Agricultural environments are contaminated with organic dusts containing bacterial components. Chronic inhalation of organic dusts is implicated in respiratory diseases. CD14 is a critical receptor for gram-negative lipopolysaccharide; however, its association with respiratory disease among agricultural workers is unknown. The objective of this study was to determine if serum soluble CD14 (sCD14) levels are associated with lung function among agricultural workers and if this association is modified by genetic variants in CD14. Methods: This cross-sectional study included 584 veterans with >2 years of farming experience and that were between the ages of 40 and 80 years. Participants underwent spirometry and were genotyped for four tagging CD14 polymorphisms (CD14/-2838, rs2569193; CD14/-1720, rs2915863; CD14/-651, rs5744455; and CD14/-260, rs2569190). Serum sCD14 was assayed by ELISA. Results: Subjects were 98% white males with a mean age 64.5 years. High soluble CD14 levels (> median sCD14) were associated decreased lung function (FEV1/FVC, p = 0.011; % predicted FEV1, p = 0.03). When stratified by COPD (yes/no) and smoking status (ever/never), high sCD14 levels (> median sCD14) were associated with low lung function among ever smokers with COPD (% predicted FEV1, padj = 0.0008; FEV1/FVC, padj = 0.0002). A similar trend was observed for never smokers with COPD; however, results did not reach statistical significance due to small sample size. There was a significant sCD14 x COPD/smoking interaction with lung function (% predicted FEV1, pinter = 0.0498; FEV1/FVC, pinter = 0.011). Regression models were adjusted for age, body mass index, education, sex, race and years worked on a farm. No association was found between CD14 polymorphisms/haplotypes (CD14/-2838; CD14/-1720; CD14/-651; CD14/-260) and sCD14 levels. The final model included the variables sCD14 and haplotypes and a haplotype x sCD14 interaction term. Individuals with the GTTG haplotype (CD14/-2838 → CD14/-260) and high sCD14 levels (> median sCD14) had on average 6.94 lower % predicted FEV1 than individuals with the GCCA haplotype and low sCD14 levels (≤ median sCD14, padj = 0.03). Conclusion:CD14 haplotypes and sCD14 are important mediators of lung function among those with COPD in this occupationally-exposed population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number49
JournalRespiratory Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 16 2017


  • Agriculture
  • CD14
  • COPD
  • Lung function
  • Polymorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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