Induced sputum, eosinophilic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1999 Nov;160(5 Pt 2):S53-7. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.160.supplement_1.14.


The application of sputum induction and refined methods of sputum examination has provided the opportunity to examine cell and molecular markers of airway inflammation in asthma, COPD, and other airway diseases. The measurements are relatively noninvasive and can be applied safely, with care, even in more severe exacerbations of asthma and severe COPD. Induced sputum examination can be applied at random and repeatedly and gives results that are reproducible, valid, and responsive to changes in treatment. An eosinophilic bronchitis, defined as sputum eosinophilia, is typical of asthma but can also occur in patients with a chronic cough without asthma, and in some patients with COPD in whom the classic inflammatory response is neutrophilic without eosinophilia. When eosinophilia occurs in COPD, it has been considered to be the result of cigarette smoking but it may be due to other causes. The clinical importance of eosinophilic bronchitis is that it responds to treatment with corticosteroid. In contrast, there is increasing evidence that an absence of sputum eosinophilia is associated with steroid resistance. Hargreave FE, Leigh R. Induced sputum, eosinophilic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / immunology
  • Bronchitis / diagnosis
  • Bronchitis / immunology*
  • Eosinophilia / diagnosis
  • Eosinophilia / immunology*
  • Eosinophils / immunology
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / immunology*
  • Neutrophil Infiltration / immunology
  • Prognosis
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Sputum / immunology*