Background There is evidence that surfactant protein (SP)-D is important in the innate, as well as in the adaptive pulmonary immune response. Serum concentrations of SP-D have been proposed as parameter of the integrity of the blood–airspace barrier in interstitial lung diseases. We hypothesized that serum SP-D concentrations are affected in allergic patients and correlate with changes in allergic airway inflammation.
Objective To determine levels of serum SP-D in allergic patients compared with non-allergic controls. Furthermore, to investigate associations between serum SP-D concentrations on the one hand and changes in commonly used markers of bronchial inflammation in allergic airways disease on the other hand.
Materials and methods Fifty allergic patients were studied and bronchial allergen challenge was used as a model to increase bronchial allergic inflammation in these patients. Serum SP-D concentrations, inflammatory parameters in induced sputum and bronchial hyper-responsiveness (BHR) were determined before and after allergen challenge. Twenty-five non-allergic volunteers served as controls.
Results Baseline serum SP-D was significantly higher in allergic patients as compared with controls (mean serum SP-D concentration (95% confidence interval): 62.7 (55.5, 70.0) in allergic patients vs. 49.5 (36.7, 62.3) ng/mL in non-allergic controls, P=0.006). In addition, baseline serum SP-D appeared to be an independent predictor for the magnitude of the late asthmatic response after allergen challenge. Furthermore, serum SP-D was predictive for the sputum eosinophil cationic protein concentration after allergen challenge.
Conclusion We propose that serum SP-D concentrations are associated with allergic bronchial inflammation and may give additional information, beside BHR and sputum eosinophils, about the degree of bronchial inflammation in allergic patients.