Assessment of eosinophil granule proteins in various body fluids: is there a relation to clinical variables in childhood asthma?


Koller University Children's Hospital, Währinger Gürtel 18–20, 1090 Vienna, Austria.



The eosinophil plays a central role in the inflammatory process in bronchial asthma. Recent studies have indicated that the assessment of eosinophil-derived proteins in various body fluids could be used for monitoring disease activity of childhood asthma. Till now, no study exists which compared the levels of eosinophil-derived proteins in various body fluids such as serum, nasal lavage fluid (NALF) and urine.


To investigate whether eosinophil granule proteins in different compartments were correlated and whether there is a relationship betweeen disease activity, pulmonary function and bronchial hyperreactivity.


Twenty-eight children with atopic bronchial asthma were recruited. Serum, NALF and urine samples were obtained and assessed for eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) and eosinophil protein X (EPX). The levels of eosinophil proteins were analysed for a relationship with lung function variables, bronchial hyperreactivity and disease activity. Eleven healthy control subjects were used as controls.


Median ECP and EPX concentrations in serum (31.4 and 74.8 μg/L vs 15.8 and 24.3 μg/L, respectively), NALF (9.9 and 44.9 μg/L vs 0 and 2.5 μg/L, respectively) and urine (49.4 vs 16.5 μg/mmol creatinine) were significantly raised in children with bronchial asthma compared with healthy control subjects. In addition, ECP and EPX levels in serum and urine samples were significantly higher in symptomatic patients compared with asymptomatic subjects with asthma. Although no relationship between eosinophil-derived proteins in serum, NALF or urine and the level of nonspecific bronchial hyperreactivity could be detected, the concentrations of EPX in serum and urine were correlated with variables of pulmonary function.


Our findings demonstrate increased eosinophil activity in serum, NALF and urine derived from children with bronchial asthma. Due to the relationship between levels of eosinophil proteins in serum/urine samples and lung function, as well as significant concentration differences between symptomatic and asymptomatic asthmatic children, the assessment of eosinophil proteins in serum or urine samples appear to be more appropriate in monitoring disease activity than measurement of ECP or EPX in NALF. Thus, the determination of serum ECP/EPX or urinary EPX may be preferentially used in monitoring eosinophilic inflammation in childhood asthma.