Bronchoalveolar Lavage as a Tool to Predict, Diagnose and Understand Bronchiolitis Obliterans Syndrome

Authors

  • V. E. Kennedy,

    1. Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine—Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC
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  • J. L. Todd,

    Corresponding author
    1. Duke Clinical Research Institute, Durham, NC
    • Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine—Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC
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  • S. M. Palmer

    1. Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine—Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC
    2. Duke Clinical Research Institute, Durham, NC
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Corresponding author: Jamie L. Todd

jamie.todd@dm.duke.edu

Abstract

Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), a condition of irreversible small airway fibrosis, is the principal factor limiting long-term survival after lung transplantation. Bronchoscopy and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), techniques central to lung transplant clinical practice, provide a unique opportunity to interrogate the lung allograft during BOS development and identify potential disease mechanisms or biomarkers. Over the past 20 years, numerous studies have evaluated the BAL cellular composition, cytokine profiles and protein constituents in lung transplant recipients with BOS. To date, however, no summative evaluation of this literature has been reported. We developed and applied objective criteria to qualitatively rank the strength of associations between BAL parameters and BOS in order to provide a comprehensive and systematic assessment of the literature. Our analysis indicates that several BAL parameters, including neutrophil count, interleukin-8, alpha defensins and MMP-9, demonstrate highly replicable associations with BOS. Additionally, we suggest that considerable opportunity exists to increase the knowledge gained from BAL analyses in BOS through increased sample sizes, covariant adjustment and standardization of the BAL technique. Further efforts to leverage analysis of BAL constituents in BOS may offer great potential to provide additional in-depth and mechanistic insights into the pathogenesis of this complex disease.

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