Background: The eosinophil chemotactic and activating effects of eotaxin and the known association of eosinophils with asthma suggest that eotaxin expression is increased during asthma exacerbations.
Objective: We sought to determine whether plasma eotaxin levels are elevated in patients presenting for emergency treatment of acute asthma and to correlate eotaxin levels with disease activity and responses to treatment.
Methods: A case-control study of plasma eotaxin levels was performed in the 46 patients who presented for emergency asthma treatment and 133 age-, sex-, and ethnicity-matched subjects with stable asthma.
Results: Plasma eotaxin levels were significantly higher in 46 patients with acute asthma symptoms and airflow obstruction (520 pg/mL [250, 1100 pg/mL]; geometric mean [-1 SD, +1 SD]) than in 133 subjects with stable asthma (350 pg/mL [190, 620 pg/mL]; P =.0008). Among the patients with emergency asthma flares, those who responded to asthma treatment with an increase in peak expiratory flow rate by an amount equal to at least 20% of their predicted normal value had lower eotaxin levels than those who did not (410 pg/mL [210, 800 pg/mL] and 660 pg/mL [300, 1480 pg/mL], respectively; P =.04).
Conclusion: These findings imply that eotaxin either is mechanistically involved in acute asthma or serves as a biomarker for activity of the CCR3 receptor ligand system, which is functionally linked to asthma.