Additive effect of eosinophilia and atopy on exhaled nitric oxide levels in children with or without a history of respiratory symptoms

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2005 Feb;16(1):52-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3038.2005.00220.x.


Although atopy and blood eosinophilia both influence exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) measurements, no study has quantified their single or combined effect. We assessed the combined effect of atopy and blood eosinophilia on eNO in unselected schoolchildren. In 356 schoolchildren (boys/girls: 168/188) aged 9.0-11.5 yr, we determined eNO, total serum IgE, blood eosinophil counts and did skin prick tests (SPT) and spirometry. Parents completed a questionnaire on their children's current or past respiratory symptoms. Atopy was defined by a SPT >3 mm and eosinophilia by a blood cell count above the 80th percentile (>310 cells/ml). eNO levels were about twofold higher in atopic-eosinophilic subjects than in atopic subjects with low blood eosinophils [24.3 p.p.b. (parts per billion) vs. 14.1 p.p.b.] and than non-atopic subjects with high or low blood eosinophils (24.3 p.p.b. vs. 12.2 p.p.b. and 10.9 p.p.b.) (p <0.001 for both comparisons). The additive effect of atopy and high eosinophil count on eNO levels remained unchanged when subjects were analyzed separately by sex or by a positive history of wheeze (n=60), respiratory symptoms other than wheeze (n=107) or without respiratory symptoms (n=189). The frequency of sensitization to Dermatophagoides (Dpt or Dpf) was similar in atopic children with and without eosinophilia (66.2% and 67.4%, respectively); eosinophilia significantly increased eNO levels in Dp-sensitized children as well in children sensitized to other allergens. In a multiple linear regression analysis, eNO levels were mainly explained by the sum of positive SPT wheals and a high blood eosinophil count (t=4.8 and 4.3, p=0.000), but also by the presence of respiratory symptoms (especially wheeze) and male sex (t=2.6 and 2.0, p=0.009 and 0.045, respectively). Measuring eNO could be a simple, non-invasive method for identifying subjects at risk of asthma in unselected school populations.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Eosinophilia / blood
  • Eosinophilia / immunology
  • Eosinophilia / metabolism*
  • Eosinophils / immunology
  • Exhalation / physiology
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Flow Rates / physiology
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / blood
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / metabolism*
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Respiration Disorders / immunology
  • Respiration Disorders / metabolism*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin Tests / methods
  • Spirometry / methods
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Nitric Oxide
  • Immunoglobulin E