Bronchoscopy with bronchoalveolar lavage causes neutrophil recruitment to the lower respiratory tract

S. G. Von Essen, R. A. Robbins, J. R. Spurzem, A. B. Thompson, S. S. McGranaghan, S. I. Rennard

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48 Scopus citations


Bronchoscopy with bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) is a technique now widely utilized for both clinical and investigational purposes. At times, it is useful to perform bronchoscopy with BAL in a serial fashion. However, previous work in animals indicates that bronchoscopy with BAL can cause lower respiratory tract inflammation. To determine if BAL also causes lower respiratory tract inflammation in humans, sequential bronchoscopy with BAL was performed in 30 human subjects. Inflammation was evaluated using a quantitative visual assessment of bronchitis and by BAL. BAL was performed by instilling and aspirating five 20-ml aliquots of saline in each of three areas of the lung. The fluid returned from the first aliquot from each site was pooled as the bronchial fraction, and that from the remaining four aliquots was pooled as the alveolar fraction. Each volunteer was restudied at 2, 7, 24 or 72 h. Findings at the second bronchoscopy with BAL included an elevation in visual signs of large airways inflammation, which was greatest at 24 h. Bronchial neutrophils increased significantly, with the greatest effect seen at 7 h (5.3 ± 2.0 versus 59.5 ± 11.0%, SEM). The effect was most pronounced in the area of the lung previously lavaged, but was also seen in lobes that had not received BAL at the first bronchoscopy. Alveolar neutrophils also increased, with the maximal effect also seen at 7 h. Visible bronchial inflammation, bronchial neutrophils, and alveolar neutrophils returned to the normal range by 72 h. To determine if bronchoscopy with BAL also results in an increase in neutrophils in the bloodstream, peripheral blood absolute segmented neutrophils were evaluated and were found to have risen significantly after bronchoscopy with BAL by 6 h after the procedure but returned to the normal range at 24 h. Bronchoscopy with BAL causes both visual and cellular lower respiratory tract inflammation and peripheral blood neutrophilia in human subjects. These changes resolve over 72 h.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)848-854
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Review of Respiratory Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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