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Eur Respir J. 2000 Jan;15(1):109-15.

Comparison of induced sputum with bronchial wash, bronchoalveolar lavage and bronchial biopsies in COPD.

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  • 1Dept of Pulmonology, University Hospital, Groningen, The Netherlands.


It is unclear how cellular and soluble inflammatory markers in induced sputum relate to markers in lavage fluid and biopsies in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This was investigated and also the possible differences between subjects with COPD and healthy controls assessed. Eighteen nonatopic subjects with COPD and 11 healthy controls were studied. Sputum was induced by inhalation of hypertonic saline. The airways were lavaged, using the first 50 mL for bronchial wash (BW) and the subsequent 150 mL for bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), and biopsies were taken from subsegmental carinae. Neutrophils were the predominant cell type in sputum in COPD (median 77.3%) but not in BW (5.5%) and BAL fluid (1.7%). Differential cell counts in sputum did not correlate with the counts in BW or BAL fluid or biopsies, whereas sputum eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) levels correlated with BW fluid ECP levels (p=0.66, p=0.007) and sputum interleukin-8 (IL-8) concentration with BAL fluid IL-8 concentration (p= 0.52, p=0.026). Subjects with COPD had a higher percentage of sputum neutrophils and eosinophils and higher concentrations of ECP and IL-8 than healthy controls. The higher percentages of eosinophils and concentrations of ECP were also seen in BW and BAL fluid. Finally, higher numbers of macrophages and eosinophils were found in biopsies. In conclusion, induced sputum is derived from a different compartment from BW and BAL fluid and biopsies. Induced sputum may be useful for studying the contribution of luminal neutrophils and eosinophils in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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