Background: Churg-Strauss syndrome (CSS) is a rare form of systemic vasculitis occurring in patients with asthma and hypereosinophilia. For optimal treatment, prompt distinction of CSS from asthma is necessary; however, there are few serologic screening markers for this purpose. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a vascular permeability factor, has been associated with other systemic vasculitis such as Wegener granulomatosis and giant-cell arteritis.
Objective: The aim of this study was to clarify the clinical value of the measurement of serum VEGF for the distinction of CSS from asthma.
Methods: We investigated serum VEGF levels in 18 CSS patients, 19 asthma patients, and 12 acute bronchitis patients. We also performed immunohistochemical analysis for VEGF.
Results: The serum VEGF levels of CSS patients were significantly higher than those of asthma patients and acute bronchitis patients. The sensitivity and specificity to distinguish CSS from asthma were 93.3% and 81.8%, respectively (cutoff, 600 pg/mL). Infiltrating eosinophils stained intensely positive for VEGF, and serum VEGF levels showed a significant correlation with peripheral eosinophil counts. Serum VEGF levels decreased significantly after therapy (p < 0.001). The infiltrating eosinophils in the CSS lesion stained positive for VEGF in the immunohistochemical analysis.
Conclusion: VEGF is one of the useful screening markers for the distinction of CSS from asthma. We suggest that VEGF might be associated with the pathogenesis of CSS.