Background: Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) is a common complication of lung transplantation (LT), associated with a tremendous mortality and morbidity. Recent innovative research has focused on bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) analysis, assuming that neutrophilia might be a marker of chronic rejection.
Patients and methods: To address this issue, we retrospectively analyzed 258 sequential BAL from 44 lung transplant recipients, having survived for more than 3 months after surgery.
Results: At the end of the follow-up, 22, 7, 7 and 8 patients had BOS stage 0, 1, 2 and 3, respectively. The total cell count and neutrophilia increased with BOS severity (P < 0.01). BOS occuring before and after the 12th month of LT were associated with early and more delayed increases of BAL neutrophils, respectively. Finally, the various kinetic profiles of neutrophil progression were identified, allowing for an earlier identification of BOS stages 2 and 3, by 3 and 6 months, respectively. Conversely, neutrophilia associated to BOS stage 1 remained low, and could not be distinguished from that of stage 0.
Conclusions: These results support the possible role of neutrophils in BOS pathogenesis, and may be of interest for an earlier detection and management of chronic rejection.