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Airway inflammation underlies cystic fibrosis (CF) pulmonary exacerbations. In a prospective multicenter study of randomly selected, clinically stable adolescents and adults, we assessed relationships between 24 inflammation-associated molecules and the future occurrence of CF pulmonary exacerbation using proportional hazards models. We explored relationships for potential confounding or mediation by clinical factors and assessed sensitivities to treatments including CF transmembrane regulator (CFTR) protein synthesis modulators. Results from 114 participants, including seven on ivacaftor or lumacaftor-ivacaftor, representative of the US CF population during the study period, identified 10 biomarkers associated with future exacerbations mediated by percent predicted forced expiratory volume in 1 s. The findings were not sensitive to anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and CFTR modulator treatments. The analyses suggest that combination treatments addressing RAGE-axis inflammation, protease-mediated injury, and oxidative stress might prevent pulmonary exacerbations. Our work may apply to other airway inflammatory diseases such as bronchiectasis and the acute respiratory distress syndrome.

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Health sciences, Medical specialty, Medicine, Omics, respiratory medicine