IL-5, IL-8 and GM-CSF immunostaining of sputum cells in bronchial asthma and chronic bronchitis

Clin Exp Allergy. 1995 Aug;25(8):720-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.1995.tb00009.x.


Background: Granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and interleukin (IL)-5 or IL-8 have been suggested to play an important role in the pathogenesis of eosinophilic airway inflammation in bronchial asthma or neutrophilic airway inflammation in chronic bronchitis, respectively, However, GM-CSF and IL-8 have biological activities to either eosinophils or neutrophils.

Objective: To investigate the contribution of these cytokines to airway inflammation, we compared the cellular differential and immunolocalization of GM-CSF, IL-5 and IL-8 in sputum cells from patients with bronchial asthma and chronic bronchitis.

Methods: Cytospins of sputum cells from 12 patients with bronchial asthma and 12 with chronic bronchitis were subjected to cellular differential counting and immuno-cytochemistry with anti-human GM-CSF, IL-5 and IL-8 antibody.

Results: The predominant cells in bronchial asthma were eosinophils and lymphocytes, while those in chronic bronchitis were neutrophils. All cytokines examined were detected in either bronchial asthma or chronic bronchitis, although the percentage of GM-CSF and Il-5 positive cells in bronchial asthma (53.4 +/- 6.0 [mean +/- SEM]% and 9.7 +/- 2.8%, respectively) was significantly higher than that in chronic bronchitis (11.4 +/- 2.5%; P < 0.001 and 1.7 +/- 0.3%; P < 0.007, respectively). In contrast, the percentage of IL-8 positive cells in chronic bronchitis (23.8 +/- 7.0%) was significantly higher than that in bronchial asthma (7.& +/- 1.9%; P < 0.04). The cells positive for IL-5 were lymphocytes in bronchial asthma and chronic bronchitis. The cells positive for GM-CSF in bronchial asthma were predominantly eosinophils, while those in chronic bronchitis were monocytes/macrophages and neutrophils. In contrast, neutrophils are mainly positive for IL-8 in chronic bronchitis, while monocytes/macrophages and bronchial epithelial cells are positive for IL-8 in bronchial asthma.

Conclusion: The immunochemical comparison of GM-CSF and IL-8 localization in sputum cells between bronchial asthma/chronic bronchitis suggests the differential regulation and roles of these cytokines in eosinophilic vs neutrophilic airway inflammation, resulting in the development of different types of airway inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Bronchitis / immunology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / analysis*
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / immunology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-5 / analysis*
  • Interleukin-5 / immunology
  • Interleukin-8 / analysis*
  • Interleukin-8 / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sputum / chemistry*
  • Sputum / cytology


  • Interleukin-5
  • Interleukin-8
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor