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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2003 Dec;29(6):683-93. Epub 2003 Jun 19.

Bronchial mast cells are the dominating LTC4S-expressing cells in aspirin-tolerant asthma.

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  • 1Institute of Oral Biology, University of Oslo, PB 1052, Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway.


The increased bronchial production of leukotriene C4 (LTC4) in asthma is assumed to derive from infiltrating eosinophils expressing LTC4-synthase (LTC4S). Multicolor immunohistofluorescence examination of bronchial cryosections from 30 treated, untreated, or bronchial antigen-provoked aspirin-tolerant individuals with asthma and nine control subjects revealed that the dominating LTC4S-expressing cells were mast cells (> 80%), and not eosinophils. Whereas 95% of the mast cells expressed high levels of LTC4S, only 8-27% of the eosinophils expressed low levels. Image analysis revealed a significantly higher LTC4S expression levels in mast cells than in eosinophils. The bronchial mRNA levels for LTC4S did not correlate with the densities of LTC4S-positive eosinophils or mast cells. Treated individuals with asthma with more than 12% reversibility had significantly higher density of LTC4S-positive mast cells than those with less reversibility, and it correlated significantly with reduction in lung function (FEV1-predicted), both before and after salbutamol inhalation. Thus, mucosal mast cells, and not eosinophils, were the dominating LTC4S-containing cells in both untreated and treated aspirin-tolerant asthma. The density of LTC4S-positive mast cells correlated, moreover, with both the reduction in lung function and the degree of reversibility in treated asthma.

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