Analysis of induced sputum to examine the effects of inhaled corticosteroid on airway inflammation in children with asthma

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1999 May;82(5):491-6. doi: 10.1016/S1081-1206(10)62727-5.


Background: Analysis of induced sputum can be performed safely in children with asthma and is useful for both cellular and biochemical markers of inflammation. Glucocorticosteroid inhalation has become the first line therapy for chronic asthma by suppressing airway inflammation, which produces the decrease of bronchial hyperreactivity and reduces the number of eosinophil in bronchial submucosa.

Objective: To determine the characteristics of the inflammatory cells and their markers in sputum and to examine the pharmacokinetic effects of glucocorticoid within 3 hours after inhalation therapy on FEV1 and sputum inflammatory indices in children with clinically defined chronic asthma.

Methods: Thirty subjects with asthma included 14 current symptomatic asthmatics and 14 normal controls inhaled 4.5% hypertonic saline for 10 minutes by nebulizer. The expectorated sputum were collected from all asthmatics before and 3 hours after corticosteroid inhalation for children with asthma and were reduced by dithiotreitol. Total cell counts and differentials were determined. ECP was measured by CAP system. Interleukin-5, GM-CSF and albumin were measured by double sandwich ELISA.

Results: The mean eosinophil percentage and ECP in induced sputum of asthmatics were significantly higher than that of controls. The induced sputum samples obtained after glucocorticoid inhalation showed a significant reduction in mean eosinophil percentage, but FEV1, IL-5, GM-CSF, albumin, and ECP values were not significantly decreased.

Conclusion: The present results in induced sputum may be interpreted to reflect direct steroid action on airways and lack of effect on bone marrow effectors at 3 hours after glucocorticoid inhalation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adolescent
  • Albumins / metabolism
  • Asthma / pathology*
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism
  • Bronchitis / pathology*
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology
  • Cell Count
  • Child
  • Eosinophil Granule Proteins
  • Eosinophils / chemistry
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / drug effects
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacokinetics
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Male
  • Ribonucleases*
  • Sputum / chemistry
  • Sputum / cytology*
  • Time Factors


  • Albumins
  • Blood Proteins
  • Eosinophil Granule Proteins
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Ribonucleases