Activated T cells and eosinophilia in bronchoalveolar lavages from subjects with asthma correlated with disease severity

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1991 Dec;88(6):935-42. doi: 10.1016/0091-6749(91)90251-i.


Activated T-lymphocytes may regulate the eosinophilic inflammation of bronchial asthma. In the present study, we investigated T cell activation and eosinophilia in blood and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) in 17 patients with asthma not receiving steroid treatment. Compared to normal individuals, BAL from patients with asthma contained significantly increased numbers of both lymphocytes and eosinophils (EOSs). The lymphocytosis consisted of increased numbers of both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, and these T cell populations expressed elevated levels of T cell activation markers (interleukin-2 receptor [CD25], HLA-DR, and very late activation antigen 1). Close correlation was found between numbers of BAL CD4+ IL-2R+ T cells and numbers of EOSs. Moreover, the numbers of activated T cells and EOSs were related to the severity of asthma as measured by impairment of FEV1 and increased methacholine bronchial responsiveness. We demonstrate in both blood and BAL a close correlation between T cell activation, eosinophilia, and severity of asthma, suggesting that recruitment and activation of lymphocytes and EOSs are fundamental to the pathogenesis of bronchial asthma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology*
  • CD4-CD8 Ratio
  • Eosinophilia / immunology*
  • Eosinophils / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology*
  • Male
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*