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Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 Feb;7(1):102-6.

Quantitative sputum cell counts as a marker of airway inflammation in clinical practice.

Author information

1
McMaster University, St Joseph's HealthCare, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Abstract

PURPOSE OF REVIEW:

Bronchitis, meaning airway inflammation, is an important component of airway disease. Yet respirologists and allergists, who have stressed the importance of measurements of airway function, have been slow to introduce airway inflammation measurements into clinical practice. Of the measurements available, quantitative sputum cell counts have the most clinical value. This article provides additional information on this topic from studies published in 2005 and 2006.

RECENT FINDINGS:

Airway diseases are heterogeneous within patients in terms of the disease present and the type of airway inflammation. Quantitative sputum cell counts (total cell count as well as the differential) identify noneosinophilic, mainly neutrophilic, probably infective exacerbations as common in patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that may be unresponsive to corticosteroid treatment. In contrast, measurements of sputum eosinophils can be used to guide the minimum dose of corticosteroid required to control eosinophilic bronchitis and reduce eosinophilic exacerbations.

SUMMARY:

Measurements of quantitative sputum cell counts need to be made available, initially by tertiary care centres, to diagnose bronchitis in airway disease and to optimize treatment. Examination of how these are complemented by indirect measures of airway inflammation, specifically exhaled nitric oxide and airway hyperresponsiveness to stimuli acting indirectly through mediator release, requires further investigation.

PMID:
17218819
DOI:
10.1097/ACI.0b013e328013e3c2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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