Background: Although an eosinophilic infiltrate has been observed in the small airways of asthmatic individuals, the mechanisms responsible for cellular recruitment in the lung periphery remain to be clarified. Eotaxin and monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-4 are 2 eosinophil-associated chemokines shown to be upregulated at sites of allergic inflammation. However, their expression within the small airways of asthmatic individuals remains to be elucidated.
Objective: We sought to determine the expression of eotaxin and MCP-4 in the peripheral airways and parenchyma of lungs of subjects with asthma and to assess their relationship to the numbers of resident eosinophils.
Methods: We examined surgically resected lung tissue from 6 asthmatic and 10 nonasthmatic subjects for the presence of eotaxin and MCP-4 mRNA by in situ hybridization. Chemokine mRNA expression was examined with respect to the numbers of eosinophils within the airways, as detected by immunocytochemistry for major basic protein.
Results: Numbers of chemokine mRNA-positive cells were significantly increased in the large and small airways of asthmatic subjects compared with nonasthmatic subjects. Although eotaxin and MCP-4 mRNA were widely expressed in the lungs of subjects with asthma, their expression was particularly evident within the bronchial epithelium and inflammatory cells. In the airways of the asthmatic individuals, the expression of eotaxin mRNA was significantly correlated to the numbers of eosinophils present.
Conclusion: There is an increased expression of eotaxin and MCP-4 mRNA within the peripheral airways of lungs of asthmatic subjects, suggesting that these chemokines contribute to the small airways and peripheral lung inflammation in asthma.