Bronchial responsiveness to methacholine and adenosine 5'-monophosphate in young children with asthma: their relationship with blood eosinophils and serum eosinophil cationic protein

S H Choi, D K Kim, J Yu, Y Yoo, Y Y Koh
Allergy 2007, 62 (10): 1119-24

BACKGROUND: Bronchial hyperresponsiveness is a characteristic feature of asthma, and is usually measured by bronchial challenges using direct or indirect stimuli. Blood eosinophil numbers and serum levels of eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) are considered as indirect measures of airway inflammation in asthma. The aim of this study was to investigate whether bronchial responsiveness to adenosine 5'-monophosphate (AMP) is more closely associated with blood eosinophil markers, compared with that to methacholine, in young children with asthma.

METHODS: Methacholine and AMP bronchial challenges were performed in 4- to 6-year-old children with asthma (n = 77) and in healthy controls (n = 32), using a modified auscultation method. The end-point was defined as the appearance of wheezing and/or oxygen desaturation. The peripheral blood eosinophil counts and serum ECP concentrations were determined in each subject.

RESULTS: A positive response to methacholine (end-point concentration < or =8mg/ml) and to AMP (end-point concentration < or =200 mg/ml) was observed in 74 (96.1%) and 66 asthmatic children (85.7%), respectively. A majority of controls was unresponsive to both challenges. In the asthma group, there was no significant correlation between methacholine end-point concentration and the eosinophil counts (r = -0.111, P = 0.337) or serum ECP levels (r = -0.126, P = 0.274). In contrast, AMP end-point concentration correlated significantly with the eosinophil counts (r = -0.372, P = 0.001) and with serum ECP levels (r = -0.371, P = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that bronchial responsiveness to AMP is more closely related to airway inflammation, compared with that to methacholine, and support the potential usefulness of AMP challenges in detecting inflammatory changes in young children with asthma.

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