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Respir Med. 2008 Mar;102(3):339-47. Epub 2007 Dec 20.

Broncho-alveolar lavage fluid recovery correlates with airway neutrophilia in lung transplant patients.

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  • 1Laboratorium of Pneumology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, and Lung Transplantation Unit, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium.


Broncho-alveolar lavage (BAL) is important to assess airway inflammation. There is debate about the volume instilled, but the variation of BAL fluid recovery (BFR) has received little attention. We investigated the association between BFR and rejection/infection status after lung transplantation (LTx). We combined clinical findings, FEV1, transbronchial biopsies and BAL analysis (BFR, interleukin-8 (IL8), cell counts, microbiology) of 115 samples/LTx patients. The patients were divided into 4 groups: stable (subdivided in colonized and non-colonized), acute rejection (AR), Bronchiolitis Obliterans Syndrome (BOS) and infection. BFR was significantly lower in AR, BOS and infection, and correlated with the severity of AR and BOS. A 10 ml decrease of BFR was associated with a FEV1 decrease of 4.4% and a %neutrophils and IL8 increase of 9.6% and 9.7 pg/ml, respectively. Colonized stable patients had no significant differences in airway inflammation, FEV1 and BFR compared to the non-colonized stable patients. We conclude that a low BFR is an indicator of lung rejection or infection. BFR variation is related to airway obstruction and neutrophilic inflammation, which can cause an increased compliance of the airway wall, making it more collapsible. Airway colonization in stable patients had no effect on airway inflammatory parameters, BFR and FEV1.

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