Changes in the cellular profile of induced sputum after allergen-induced asthmatic responses

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1992 Jun;145(6):1265-9. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/145.6.1265.


Allergen inhalation causes airway inflammation and an increase in histamine airway responsiveness. We have used cell counts in sputum induced by hypertonic saline aerosol to assess airway inflammation before and 32 h after asthmatic responses to allergen. Twelve asthmatic subjects (mean age, 27.4 yr; range, 20-38 yr) had an inhalation test with D. farinae, ragweed pollen, or cat extract. All of them developed an early response with a fall in FEV1, of 24.8% (SD, 6.3%); nine of 12 had a definite late response (fall in FEV1 greater than or equal to 15%), and 10 of 12 had an increase in airway responsiveness to histamine at 32 h (PC20 reduced by greater than twofold). Sputum was induced by hypertonic saline after the histamine test, before and 32 h after the allergen challenge, at the same time of day. The quality of the sample was scored according to visual inspection and inverted microscopy and by salivary contamination. Plugs arising from the lower respiratory tract were selected for further evaluation. Differential cell counts of eosinophils (Eo) and metachromatic cells (MCC) (mast cell and basophils) were obtained from direct smears, blind to the clinical procedures. The mean fall in FEV1 after hypertonic saline was 6.4% (range, zero to 28%). The sputum samples were adequate in 79.5% of attempts. Eo and MCC increased significantly from 3.8 (4.4) to 18.2 (22.8)% (p = 0.01) and from 0.05 (0.17) to 0.25 (0.76)% (p = 0.04), respectively.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allergens*
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / physiopathology*
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Cell Count
  • Eosinophils / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sputum / cytology*


  • Allergens