A comparison of three standard methods of identifying mast cells in endobronchial biopsies in normal and asthmatic subjects

Liam Heaney, Paul Leggett, Pamela Maxwell, H. Bharucha, Madeleine Ennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Reported mast-cell counts in endobronchial biopsies from asthmatic subjects are conflicting, with different methodologies often being used. This study compared three standard methods of counting mast cells in endobronchial biopsies from asthmatic and normal subjects. Endobronchial biopsies were obtained from atopic asthmatic subjects (n=17), atopic nonasthmatic subjects (n=6), and nonatopic nonasthmatic control subjects (n=5). After overnight fixation in Carnoy's fixative, mast cells were stained by the short and long toluidine blue methods and antitryptase immunohistochemistry and were counted by light microscopy. Method comparison was made according to Bland & Altman. The limits of agreement were unacceptable for each of the comparisons, suggesting that the methods are not interchangeable. Coefficients of repeatability were excellent, and not different for the individual techniques. These results suggest that some of the reported differences in mast-cell numbers in endobronchial biopsies in asthma may be due to the staining method used, making direct comparisons between studies invalid. Agreement on a standard method is required for counting mast cells in bronchial biopsies, and we recommend the immunohistochemical method, since fixation is less critical and the resultant tissue sections facilitate clear, accurate, and rapid counts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)836-843
Number of pages8
JournalAllergy
Volume52
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1997

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