Effects of glucocorticoids on humoral and cellular immunity and on airway inflammation in patients with steroid-dependent intractable asthma

J Asthma. 1993;30(6):485-92. doi: 10.3109/02770909309056758.


The effects of glucocorticoids on the proportion of lymphocytes in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid in relation to humoral and cellular immunity were studied in 56 patients with steroid-dependent intractable asthma. To analyze the mechanism responsible for reduced numbers of BAL lymphocytes, we divided the subjects into 4 groups according to their BAL lymphocyte proportions: 0-4.9%, 5.0-9.9%, 10.0-14.9%, and 15.0-20.0%. Serum IgG levels and the peripheral lymphocyte count were significantly reduced in patients with a low proportion of BAL lymphocytes (less than 9.9%) than in those with more than 10% BAL lymphocytes. Delayed cutaneous reactivity to purified protein derivative was suppressed in patients with a low proportion of BAL lymphocytes (less than 4.9%). The mean proportion of BAL neutrophils tended to increase as the proportion of BAL lymphocytes decreased. These results show that the reduction in BAL lymphocytes produced by glucocorticoids is associated with suppressed humoral and cellular immunity, and that under such conditions the proportion of BAL neutrophils increases.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibody Formation / drug effects
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Beclomethasone / adverse effects
  • Beclomethasone / immunology*
  • Beclomethasone / therapeutic use
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects
  • Immunoglobulins / blood
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Lymphocytes
  • Lymphopenia / chemically induced*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neutrophils
  • Prednisolone / adverse effects
  • Prednisolone / immunology*
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use


  • Immunoglobulins
  • Prednisolone
  • Beclomethasone