The aim of this study was to compare in atopic and nonatopic asthmatic children correlations between two inflammation parameters, i.e., blood eosinophilia and exhaled nitric oxide (FE(NO)), and pulmonary function values, at baseline and after beta(2)-adrenergic bronchodilators. Ninety-two steroid-naive asthmatic children were evaluated: 26 were skin prick test- and RAST-negative (nonatopic subjects), whereas 66 were atopic, 15 being sensitized only to house dust mites (monosensitized) and 51 to mites and to at least one other class of allergens (polysensitized). Baseline spirometric values (FEV(1) and FEF(25-75%)) were similar in atopic and nonatopic groups (P > 0.1, each comparison). However, when compared to nonatopic subjects, atopic children showed a significantly higher degree of blood eosinophilia (3.0% and 6.7% white blood cell count, respectively; P = 0.0001) and higher FE(NO) levels (6.8 ppb and 16.0 ppb, respectively; P = 0.0001). While a positive correlation between FE(NO) levels and blood eosinophilia was observed in atopic children (r = 0.25, P = 0.041), no correlations between these two inflammation parameters and baseline pulmonary function values were demonstrated in any of the asthmatic groups. Inhalation of a beta(2)-agonist drug induced in the two asthmatic populations similar improvements in FEV(1) and FEF(25-75%) and no changes in FE(NO) levels or blood eosinophilia. However, only in atopic children positive correlations were found between percent variation in FEV(1) (delta%FEV(1)) and FE(NO) levels (r = 0.35, P = 0.006) or blood eosinophilia (r = 0.26, P = 0.04). Within the atopic group, no differences were found between mono- and polysensitized individuals in all parameters evaluated. Thus only in atopic children did parameters of inflammation correlate with airway obstruction reversibility.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.