Seventeen patients with occupational asthma due to western red cedar had bronchial lavage during follow-up examination after removal from exposure for at least 1 year. Seven patients were asymptomatic while ten continued to have symptoms of asthma requiring treatment. Symptomatic patients had evidence of airway inflammation, as reflected by a significantly higher total cell count, neutrophils and eosinophils, as well as an increase in protein and albumin in their bronchial lavage fluid compared to those without symptoms. Asymptomatic patients had no evidence of airway inflammation in the lavage fluid. There was no correlation between the degree of non-specific bronchial hyperresponsiveness and the number or percentage of inflammatory cells to suggest that cellular infiltration is the sole cause of persistent bronchial hyperresponsiveness.
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