It has been suggested that dendritic cells (DCs) are critical antigen presenting cells for eosinophilic airway inflammation in a mouse model of asthma, and cysteinyl leukotrienes may play a role in DC trafficking in asthmatics. We investigated whether the number of DCs is increased in the induced sputum of both atopic and nonatopic asthmatics and is related to activated eosinophil count in the sputum. Sputum was induced by inhalation of hypertonic saline in 9 atopic and 12 nonatopic asthmatics and 10 nonatopic normal controls, and differential cell counts were performed. DCs and activated eosinophils were identified by immunocytochemistry with monoclonal antibodies (anti-CD1a and EG2, respectively). There were significantly higher percentages of eosinophils, EG2+ cells, and CD1a+ DC in the sputum of atopic and nonatopic asthmatics compared with normal controls, respectively. In asthmatics, the percentage of CD1a+ DC was significantly correlated with that of EG2+ cells (Rs=0.62, p=0.004). We demonstrated that the increased number of DCs was evident in the induced sputum of both atopic and nonatopic asthmatics, and the DC number was related to the activated eosinophil count, which suggests that DCs may contribute to the ongoing eosinophilic inflammation in asthmatic airways, and vice versa.
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