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Clin Exp Allergy. 2003 Sep;33(9):1221-5.

Non-bronchoscopic sampling and culture of bronchial epithelial cells in children.

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1
Department of Child Health, Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The bronchial epithelium is likely to play a vital role in airway diseases in children, such as asthma and viral-associated wheeze. In adults, studies with primary bronchial epithelial cells cultured from samples obtained by fibre-optic bronchoscopy have provided key insights into the role of the epithelial cell. However, it is difficult to justify bronchoscopy in children to obtain epithelial cells for research purposes.

OBJECTIVE:

To examine the possibility of retrieving and culturing viable epithelial cells using a blind non-bronchoscopic method from children undergoing elective surgery.

METHODS:

Subjects were children undergoing elective surgery under general anaesthesia. Following intubation, non-bronchoscopic bronchoalveolar lavage and non-bronchoscopic bronchial brushing were performed. A sheathed bronchial cytology brush was advanced through the endotracheal tube, wedged and then withdrawn 2-3 cm before gentle sampling was used to collect bronchial epithelial cells. Initial samples were used to characterize the number, type and viability of epithelial cells recovered compared to a control group of adults undergoing standard bronchoscopic sampling. Subsequent samples were used to establish primary bronchial epithelial cell cultures in children both with and without wheezing illness.

RESULTS:

A total of 63 children underwent bronchial brushing [38 male; median age 7.1 years (1.0-14.2 years]. Initial samples (n=30) showed recovery of viable epithelial cells comparable to that from a single brush obtained via a bronchoscope in an adult control group (n=11). In 27 (82%) of the subsequent 33 samples obtained non-bronchoscopically from children, primary bronchial epithelial cell cultures were successfully established. There were no adverse effects attributable to sampling.

CONCLUSION:

We have shown that non-bronchoscopic bronchial brushing is a safe and effective technique for recovering viable bronchial epithelial cells that consistently yield primary cultures. This method will facilitate examination of the role of the epithelium in paediatric disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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