Background: Although the airway epithelium participates in inflammation and repair, the circadian expression of epithelial cell markers involved in these processes has not been investigated.
Objective: We sought to determine whether expression of CD51 (vitronectin and fibronectin receptor), CD54 (intercellular adhesion molecule-1), HLA-DR (activation marker), CD29 (beta1 integrin), CD49b (collagen receptor), and CD11b (complement receptor) exhibit a circadian rhythm in asthma.
Methods: Eleven patients with nocturnal asthma (NA), 9 subjects with nonnocturnal asthma (NNA), and 10 control subjects underwent bronchoscopy at 4 PM and 4 AM in a random order 1 week apart, with brushing of the proximal and distal airways. The percentage of cells staining for a particular marker was determined.
Results: At 4 PM, HLA-DR in the proximal airways and CD54 in the distal airways was significantly greater in control subjects as compared with asthmatic subjects (HLA-DR, control subjects: 10.0% [range, 5.0% to 21.0%]; NNA: 8.0% [range, 4.0% to 14.5%] NA: 3.5% [range, 2.0% to 6.0%], P = .01; CD54, control subjects: 17.0% [range, 8.0% to 25.0%], NNA: 8.0% [range, 5.3% to 11.5%], NA: 7.0% [range, 4.0% to 15.0%], P = .O;). At 4 AM, CD51 in the distal airways was significantly greater in patients with NA as compared with patients with NNA and control subjects (control subjects, 23.0% [range, 13.8% to 30.5%]; NNA, 32.0% [range, 13.0% to 35.0%]; NA, 40.0% [range, 23.0% to 50.0%], P = .05). Expression of CD51 in the distal airways correlated with the degree of airway obstruction (r = -0.57, P = .001). Control subjects exhibited significant circadian variation in the expression of HLA-DR in the proximal airways and CD54 in the distal airways.
Conclusion: The increased CD51 at night in patients with NA may be related to increased airway inflammation and repair processes in response to injury. The circadian changes in CD54 and HLA-DR in control subjects require further study to determine their significance. (J Allergy Clin