Physiologic correlates of distal lung inflammation in asthma

E. Rand Sutherland, Richard J. Martin, Russell P. Bowler, Yujun Zhang, Michael D. Rex, Monica Kraft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Background The distal lung is an important site of inflammation in asthma. Maximal midexpiratory flows and the ratio of maximal:partial flows are purported to reflect distal lung function. Objective We obtained contemporaneous transbronchial biopsy, spirometry, and plethysmography to describe more accurately the relationship between physiology and distal lung inflammation in asthma. Methods Ten patients with severe, persistent asthma with mean ± SE FEV1 of 2.8 ± 0.2 L and overnight fall in FEV1 of 22.8% ± 3.8% underwent transbronchial biopsy, spirometry, maximal midexpiratory flows, maximal:partial ratio, and lung volumes, all at 4 AM. Morphometric analysis was performed after immunohistochemistry for eosinophils, lymphocytes, macrophages, mast cells, and neutrophils. Results Maximal midexpiratory flows, maximal:partial ratio, FEV1, and forced vital capacity were not significantly correlated with alveolar tissue inflammation. However, the degree of eosinophilic alveolar inflammation was significantly and positively correlated with both total lung capacity (Spearman ρ=0.70; P=.03) and thoracic gas volume (ρ=0.62; P=.05). Correlation between eosinophils and other lung volumes was not observed. Other inflammatory cell types did not correlate with lung volumes. Conclusion Purported physiologic measures of distal lung function are poorly correlated with histopathologic evidence of distal lung inflammation. Measurement of lung volumes more accurately reflects eosinophilic distal lung inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1046-1050
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • Asthma
  • FEF
  • FVC
  • Forced expiratory flow at 25% to 75% of forced vital capacity
  • Forced vital capacity
  • M:P
  • Maximal:partial
  • V
  • distal lung
  • inflammation
  • small airways

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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