Pulmonary innate immunity in children with protracted bacterial bronchitis

J Pediatr. 2012 Oct;161(4):621-5.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.03.049. Epub 2012 May 9.


Objective: To determine bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) levels of 3 innate immunity components (human β-defensin-2 [hBD2], mannose-binding lectin [MBL], and surfactant protein-A [SP-A]), the relationship with airway neutrophilia and infection, and cytokine production of stimulated BAL cells in children with current protracted bacterial bronchitis (PBB), children with resolved PBB (PBB well), and controls.

Study design: BAL of 102 children (mean age 2.8 years) fulfilling predefined criteria of current PBB (n = 61), PBB well (n = 20), and controls (n = 21) was cultured (quantitative bacteriology) and viruses examined by polymerase chain reaction. hBD2, MBL, and SP-A were measured, and cytokine production by lipopolysaccharide-stimulated BAL cells was determined.

Results: Median hBD2 and MBL levels were significantly higher in the current PBB group (hBD2 = 164.4, IQR 0-435.5 pg/mL; MBL = 1.7, 0.4-4 ng/mL) than in the PBB well group (hBD2 = 0, IQR 0-85.2; MBL = 0.6, IQR 0.03-2.9) and controls (hBD2 = 3.6, IQR 0-126; MBL = 0.4, IQR 0.02-79). hBD2 was significantly higher in children with airway infection (n = 54; median 76.9, IQR 0-397.3) compared with those without (n = 48; 0, IQR 0-236.3), P= .04. SP-A levels and cytokine production of stimulated BAL cells were similar between groups.

Conclusion: In children's airways, hBD2, but not MBL and SP-A, relates to inflammation and infection. In children with PBB, mechanisms involving airway hBD2 and MBL are augmented. These pulmonary innate immunity components and the ability of BAL cells to respond to stimuli are unlikely to be deficient.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bronchitis, Chronic
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / chemistry*
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mannose-Binding Lectin / analysis*
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein A / analysis*
  • beta-Defensins / analysis*


  • DEFB4A protein, human
  • Mannose-Binding Lectin
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein A
  • beta-Defensins