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Thorax. Sep 1999; 54(9): 771–778.
PMCID: PMC1745565

Inflammatory cells and cellular activation in the lower respiratory tract in Churg-Strauss syndrome

Abstract

BACKGROUND—To obtain insight into the mechanisms of tissue injury in lung disease due to Churg-Strauss syndrome (CSS), the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cell profile and the levels in the BAL fluid of cell products released by activated eosinophils and neutrophils were assessed.
METHODS—Thirteen patients with active progressive CSS (n = 7) or CSS in partial remission (n = 6) underwent clinical staging and bronchoalveolar lavage. The levels of eosinophil cationic protein (ECP), myeloperoxidase (MPO), and peroxidase activity in the BAL fluid were determined and the results were compared with those of 19 patients with pulmonary active Wegener's granulomatosis (WG) and nine control subjects.
RESULTS—In patients with progressive CSS the BAL cell profile was dominated by eosinophils, neutrophil elevation being the exception. The eosinophilia was associated with high ECP levels (4.39 ng/ml and 0.40 ng/ml in the two CSS groups compared with unmeasurable values in the controls). Individual patients with highly active CSS also had raised MPO levels, comparable to the levels in the most active WG patients. Peroxidase activity in the BAL fluid was 1.26 U/ml and 0.10 U/ml in the two groups of patients with CSS and 0.20 U/ml in the controls. Pulmonary disease in patients with WG was characterised by an extensive increase in MPO (0.30ng/ml versus 0.13 ng/ml in the controls) together with high peroxidase activity in the BAL fluid (4.37 U/ml), but only a small increase in ECP levels was seen. No correlation was found between the ECP and MPO levels in patients with CSS which suggests that eosinophil and neutrophil activation vary independently of each other.
CONCLUSIONS—These findings suggest that, in addition to eosinophil activation, neutrophil activation is an important feature in some patients with highly active CSS. The balance of neutrophil and eosinophil involvement appears to be variable and this may be one explanation for the individually variable treatment requirements of patients with CSS.

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Selected References

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