Endobronchial and nasal mucosa biopsies were obtained from 5 patients with clinically-stable, diagnosed asthma (ATS criteria). A comparison was made of the presence and distribution of immunocompetent lymphocytes and macrophages within each sample. The distribution of immunocompetent cells within the nasal biopsies of the asthmatic patients reflected a very similar inflammatory infiltrate to that seen in the bronchial biopsies. Significantly raised numbers of T lymphocytes, CD45RO + lymphocytes, RFD1 + macrophage-like cells and RFD7 + macrophages were seen in both the nasal mucosa and the bronchial biopsies. Increases in HLA-DR expression were also seen in the nasal mucosa biopsies from asthmatics although the increases over normal did not reach statistical significance. It is concluded that inflammation present in the nasal mucosa of asymptomatic asthmatics exhibits cellular characteristics also seen in endobronchial biopsies. This observation offers the possibility that mucosal biopsy may be an alternative and less invasive approach for studying the cells involved in the bronchial inflammatory reaction that possibly predisposes asthmatics to bronchial hyper-responsiveness.
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