Objective: Churg-Strauss syndrome (CSS) is a rare systemic vasculitis associated with eosinophilia and asthma. We assessed the local immune response in airways of CSS patients with different activity of the disease.
Methods: Concentration of IL-5, CCL17, CCL22 and CCL26 (ELISA) together with cell expression of T-helper-related genes (real-time PCR array) were measured in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) sampled from 11 patients with active CSS, 11 patients with CSS in remission and 9 control subjects with bronchial asthma.
Results: In active CSS, both BALF and blood eosinophil counts were increased (P<0.01). BALF cells in active disease were characterized by an increased expression of Th2 and regulatory-type transcripts: STAT6, STAT3, GATA3, IL4, IL5 and IL10 as compared with asthmatics, and STAT5A, CCR4, FOXP3, IL4, IL5 and IL10 when compared with inactive CSS. There was significant increase in BALF concentration of IL-5 and CCL26 in exacerbation of CSS. CCR4-active chemokines were detected more frequently in active disease. We found a strong positive correlation between clinical parameters of disease activity (BVAS, eosinophilia) and expression of IL4, IL5, IL10 and STAT5A.
Conclusion: These results indicate that as compared with asthma, active-CSS patients have much stronger local Th2 response in the airways. Airway cells may contribute to lung eosinophilia in CSS by producing IL-5 and eosinophil active chemokines.