The pathologic mechanisms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) most certainly involves neutrophil granulocytes, cytotoxic T-cells, macophages and mast cells. The aim of this study was to investigate the relation between the number of mast cells in different compartments in bronchial biopsies of central proximal airways to structural changes, lung function tests and emphysema detected by high resolution computed tomography (HRCT). Twenty nine asymptomatic smoking and 16 never-smoking men from a population study were recruited. Central bronchial biopsies were stained to identify mast cells by immunohistochemistry. The number of mast cells in the epithelium, lamina propria and smooth muscle as well as epithelial integrity and thickness of the tenascin and laminin layer were determined. Smokers had increased numbers of mast cells in all compartments (P<0.001). Structural changes were correlated to mast cell numbers with the closest associations to mast cell numbers in the smooth muscle [epithelial integrity (Rs=-0.48, P=0.008), laminin layer (Rs=0.63, P=0.0002), tenascin layer (Rs=0.40, P=0.03)]. Similar correlations between mast cells and lung function tests were seen [functional residual capacity (FRC) (Rs=0.60, P=0.0006), total lung capacity (TLC) (Rs=0.44, P=0.02) and residual volume (RV) (Rs=0.41, P=0.03)]. No correlations could be detected between mast cells and FEV1 or to emphysema. Smoking is associated with an increase of mast cells in all compartments of the bronchial mucosa, including smooth muscle, and this is related to altered airway structure and function.
- Chronic bronchitis
- High-resolution computed tomography
- Lung function
- Mast cells
- Respiratory symptoms
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine