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Clinical Investigations: ASTHMA |

Evaluation of Blood Vessels and Edema in the Airways of Asthma Patients*: Regulation With Clarithromycin Treatment

Hong Wei Chu, MD; Monica Kraft, MD, FCCP; Michael D. Rex, BS; Richard J. Martin, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

*From the Department of Medicine, National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver, CO.

Correspondence to: Richard J. Martin, MD, FCCP, National Jewish Medical and Research Center, 1400 Jackson St, Room J116, Denver, CO 80206; e-mail: martinr@njc.org



Chest. 2001;120(2):416-422. doi:10.1378/chest.120.2.416
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Background: Although airway angiogenesis and edema have been proposed to contribute to the airway remodeling process in patients with asthma, there are few studies looking at these structural components in the airway tissue of asthma patients. Mycoplasma infection may be associated with chronic asthma and has been shown to induce angiogenesis and edema in a murine model.

Participants and measurements: We evaluated blood vessels and edema by immunohistochemistry in endobronchial biopsy samples from 10 normal control subjects and 15 patients with mild-to-moderate asthma before and after a 6-week treatment with clarithromycin (n = 8) or placebo (n = 7). Type IV collagen and α2-macroglobulin were used to identify blood vessels and edema in the tissue, respectively. Mycoplasma pneumoniae was evaluated by polymerase chain reaction.

Setting: National Jewish Medical and Research Center.

Results: At baseline, the vascularity, the number of blood vessels, and the edematous area in the airway tissue were not significantly different between asthmatic patients and normal control subjects. However, asthmatic patients demonstrated increased blood vessel size compared with normal control subjects (p = 0.03). After clarithromycin treatment in asthmatic patients, the number of blood vessels was increased (p = 0.02), while edema decreased (p = 0.049). Asthmatic patients who tested positive for M pneumoniae showed a significant increase in vascularity than asthmatic patients who tested negative for M pneumoniae (p = 0.02).

Conclusion: Our data suggest that angiogenesis and edema may not be significant features of airway remodeling in patients with chronic, mild-to-moderate asthma. Clarithromycin treatment in asthmatic patients could reduce the edematous area as identified by α2-macroglobulin staining, which may lead to airway tissue shrinkage and cause an artificial increase in the number of blood vessels.

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