Bronchoalveolar lavage cellular composition in acute asthma and acute bronchiolitis

J Pediatr. 2000 Oct;137(4):517-22. doi: 10.1067/mpd.2000.108392.


Objective: To compare cellular inflammation in the airways between acute bronchiolitis and asthma.

Study design: Using a bronchoalveolar lavage with flexible bronchoscopy procedure, we investigated the cellular constituents of BAL fluid in children with acute exacerbation of asthma (n = 18) and infants with acute bronchiolitis caused by respiratory syncytial virus (n = 20). These results were compared with those of healthy control subjects (n = 14).

Results: Total lavage fluid recovered was similar in all groups. The total cell numbers were highest in the bronchiolitis group. The BAL cellular profile in the asthma group was characterized by a higher median (interquartile range) ratio of eosinophils (2.4% [1.6%-9.5%]; P <.01) than in the bronchiolitis group (0% [0%-0%]) or the control group (0% [0%-0%]). Neutrophil ratio was higher in the bronchiolitis group (40.0% [26.5%-50.0%]; P <.01), with no difference found between the asthma group (3.3% [2.0%-7.9%]) and the control group (2.0% [0.8%-5.5%]).

Conclusions: Asthma and acute bronchiolitis are characterized by an elevated cellular percentage of eosinophils and neutrophils, respectively, in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Asthma / pathology*
  • Bronchiolitis / pathology*
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology*
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Eosinophils
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neutrophils