Cysteinyl leukotriene 1 (CysLT1) receptor expression is known to be increased in the airway mucosa of patients with asthma, especially during exacerbations; however, nothing is known of its expression in COPD.
We applied immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization to endobronchial biopsies to determine inflammatory cell CysLT1 receptor protein and mRNA expression in the following: (1) 15 nonsmoker control subjects (NSC), (2) 16 smokers with moderate to severe COPD in its stable phase (S-COPD), and (3) 15 smokers with COPD hospitalized for a severe exacerbation (SE-COPD).
The total number of bronchial mucosal inflammatory cells (CD45+) and those expressing CysLT1 receptor protein were significantly greater in SE-COPD (CysLT1 receptor protein: median [range] = 139 [31-634]) as compared with S-COPD (32 [6-114]) or NSC (16 [4-66]) (P < .001 for both). CysLT1 receptor gene expression showed similar differences. A greater proportion of CD451 cells expressed CysLT1 receptor protein in SE-COPD (median [range] = 22% [8-81]) compared with S-COPD (10% [4-32]) (P < .03) or NSC (7% [1-19]) (P < .002). In SE-COPD, the relative frequencies of CysLT1 receptor-expressing cells were as follows: tryptase1 mast cells > CD681 monocytes/macrophage > neutrophils > CD201 B lymphocytes = EG21 eosinophils. Moreover, there were positive correlations between the numbers of cells expressing CysLT1 receptor protein and the numbers of CD451 cells (r = 0.78; P < .003) and tryptase1 mast cells (r = 0.62; P < .02).
Bronchial mucosal CysLT1 receptor-positive inflammatory cells are present in the bronchial mucosa in COPD in greatest number in those experiencing a severe exacerbation.