Objective In this study, we measured the levels of eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) and interleukin (IL)-8 in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid from patients with acute asthma and acute bronchiolitis, to determine any similarities or dissimilarities in the profiles of these biochemical markers in the two diseases.
Methods BAL fluids were obtained from children with acute asthma (n=16), infants with acute bronchiolitis caused by respiratory syncytial virus (n=18), and control subjects (n=14). Children with asthma were selected to be free of viral infection. BAL cell counts and differentials were determined, and ECP and IL-8 levels were measured by radioimmunoassay and ELISA, respectively.
Results ECP levels in BAL fluids were significantly higher in the asthma group than in the bronchiolitis (P<0.01) or control (P<0.0001) groups. However, IL-8 levels were significantly higher in the bronchiolitis group than in the asthma (P<0.01) or control (P<0.001) groups. IL-8 levels in the asthma group and ECP levels in the bronchiolitis group were similar to those of the control group.
Conclusion This difference in profiles of ECP and IL-8 in acute asthma and acute bronchiolitis, together with a different inflammatory cell pattern, suggests that the nature of the inflammatory process within the lower respiratory tract may be distinctive in these two diseases.