Cystic Fibrosis Gets Compartmentalized

Cystic fibrosis has two distinct types of inflammation based on neutrophils and lymphocytes

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(RxWiki News) When it comes to cystic fibrosis, much like any lung disease, understanding inflammation is important for treatment. Researchers have discovered that cystic fibrosis inflammation occurs in two distinct ways.

Inflammation in the lumen, or inner space of the airways, is different from inflammation in the airway wall. Distinguishing these two different types of inflammation can help doctors and researchers develop new treatments and get a better understanding of how cystic fibrosis develops.

"Ask your doctor about treatments for cystic fibrosis inflammation."

The study was led by Dr. Nicolas Regamey from the Division of Respiratory Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics at the University Hospital of Bern in Switzerland. To understand inflammation, 55 children with cystic fibrosis and 16 children who were disease-free were examined. Among the children with cystic fibrosis there were two very different types of inflammation found in the airway lumen and the airway walls.

The 71 children underwent endobronchial biopsies and Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid measurements. BAL measures lung scarring or immune system issues by depositing a liquid into the lungs that is recollected and examined. Using an endoscope, or an imaging device like a camera, doctors can look at and collect tissue samples from the upper airways of the lung.

BAL fluid measurements detected more neutrophils in children with cystic fibrosis when compared to healthy children. When using the biopsy, researchers discovered more lymphocytes inside the collected tissue of children with cystic fibrosis when compared to healthy children. 

Inside the airway walls, inflammation was characterized by a large number of neutrophils. Neutrophils are white blood cells that the immune system produces to combat infections. Neutrophils and are usually found in the beginning stages of inflammation or the body's immune system response to an infection.

Lymphocytes are another type of white blood cell, including T-cells, which are involved in fighting infections inside the cell. The role of lymphocytes in the immune system is to trigger the cellular response of other white blood cells, and antibodies, to target and attack a specific foreign body.

Researchers can use this knowledge of how inflammation works in cystic fibrosis to help develop better treatments and target the specific immune cells. New treatments could help suppress neutrophils or lymphocytes depending on the needs of the child with cystic fibrosis.

No funding information was provided. No author conflicts were reported.

This study was published in the February edition of Thorax.

Last Updated:
February 27, 2012