Background: Asthma and asymptomatic bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) are frequent findings in patients with nasal polyposis (NP).
Objective: To elucidate mechanisms responsible for the development of BHR, we initiated a prospective study of bronchial inflammation as assessed by bronchial lavage (BL) and bronchial biopsy specimens in 35 patients with noninfectious NP.
Methods: BHR was determined with methacholine provocation testing. Differential cell count, ECP, and histamine and tryptase levels were determined in BLs. Pathologic examination of bronchial biopsy specimens was performed with May-Grünwald-Giemsa stain to assess the number of lymphocytes. Indirect immunoenzymatic methods were used to identify eosinophils and mast cells.
Results: Fourteen patients did not exhibit BHR (group A); 7 patients had asymptomatic BHR (group B); and 14 patients had BHR associated with asthma (group C). Patients of group C tended to have a longer duration of nasal symptoms than those of groups A and B. FEV1 (L) was significantly lower in group C than in groups A and B. The number and percentage of eosinophils were significantly higher in BLs in groups B and C than in group A (P <. 05). Patients of groups B and C had a significantly higher number of eosinophils in bronchial submucosa (14.0 +/- 1.5/mm2 and 19.0 +/- 1. 9/mm2, respectively) than patients of group A (0.1 +/- 0.1/mm2). The number of lymphocytes was also higher in groups B and C than in group A. FEV1 (percent of predicted value) and eosinophil number within bronchial mucosa correlated negatively.
Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that patients with NP and asymptomatic BHR had an eosinophilic bronchial inflammation similar to that observed in asthmatic patients with NP, whereas patients with NP without BHR do not feature eosinophilic lower airways inflammation. The clinical relevance of these results requires careful follow-up to determine whether eosinophilic inflammation in these patients precedes and is responsible for the development of obvious asthma.