It has been shown previously that airway eosinophils characterize childhood asthma and neutrophils contribute to the pathophysiology of both infantile wheezing and asthma. Therefore, eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) and interleukin-8 (IL-8) levels in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) from asthmatics (n = 16) and infantile wheezers (n = 30) were analyzed as markers of eosinophil- and neutrophil-mediated inflammation. To aid the interpretation, a control group of children (n = 10) with no lower airway pathology were included. Disease severity was assessed by using a symptom score. Surprisingly, no significant difference was found in IL-8 or ECP levels among asthma, infantile wheeze, and control groups. Asthma was characterized by: a correlation between ECP levels and eosinophil counts (r = 0.618, p = 0.014); a correlation between neutrophil number and IL-8 levels (r = 0.747, p = 0.002); and increasing IL-8 levels with symptom score (p = 0.03). In infantile wheezers, IL-8 levels were poorly related to neutrophil number but were significantly increased when neutrophils were > 10%. Although detectable levels were found in all but one symptomatic infant, IL-8 concentrations did not reflect the symptom score in infantile wheeze. ECP was unexpectedly correlated to neutrophil percentages (Rho = 0.832, p = 0.001), and a threshold of ECP > 20 ng/ml was associated with persistent symptoms in these infantile wheezers. Hence, in accordance with BALF cellularity, activation of eosinophils was suggested by raised levels of ECP in childhood asthma, but not in infantile wheeze. Neutrophil-mediated inflammation appeared to better reflect the severity of asthma than that of infantile wheeze. Although its meaning remains to be elucidated, ECP was suggested to be a helpful indicator of persistent infantile wheeze. However, its utility as a marker predicting ongoing asthma remains to be established.
|Journal||Pediatric Allergy and Immunology|
|Publication status||Published - Feb 2001|