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Am Rev Respir Dis. 1988 May;137(5):1002-8.

Activation of pulmonary mast cells by bronchoalveolar allergen challenge. In vivo release of histamine and tryptase in atopic subjects with and without asthma.

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Department of Medicine, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.


Human mast cells likely play a significant role in human asthma. In the present study, concentrations of tryptase and histamine in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) were used as indicators of pulmonary mast cell activation. BALF was obtained before and after endobronchial allergen challenge and assessed for mediator content and cell composition in 4 subject groups: nonatopic nonasthmatics (Group 1, n = 7), nonatopic asthmatics (Group 2, n = 3), atopic nonasthmatics (Group 3, n = 7), and atopic asthmatics (Group 4, n = 7). Before challenge, histamine concentrations were not different between the 4 groups, whereas tryptase concentrations were significantly greater in the atopic asthmatics than in each of the other groups (p less than 0.04). Allergen challenge in atopic asthmatics resulted in significant increases above baseline in mean +/- SD histamine (0.7 +/- 7.1 to 2.8 +/- 2.0 ng/ml) and tryptase (2.0 +/- 1.7 to 10.1 +/- 8.2 ng/ml) concentrations in BALF (p less than 0.03). Atopic nonasthmatics also had increases above baseline in histamine (0.2 +/- 0.2 to 1.2 +/- 1.4 ng/ml) and tryptase (0.5 +/- 0.4 to 1.4 +/- 1.03 ng/ml) concentrations after allergen challenge (p less than 0.05). Though the histamine values were not significantly different between atopic nonasthmatics and atopic asthmatics after allergen challenge, tryptase concentrations were markedly higher in the atopic asthmatic group. The numbers, as well as the predominance of the T mast cell type in atopic asthmatics and nonasthmatics, were no different from controls. In nonatopic subjects, regardless of asthmatic state, histamine or tryptase concentrations were not altered by allergen challenge.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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