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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Pulmonary Medicine 1/2015

Comparison of methods for the analysis of airway macrophage particulate load from induced sputum, a potential biomarker of air pollution exposure

Zeitschrift:
BMC Pulmonary Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2015
Autoren:
Hannah Jary, Jamie Rylance, Latifa Patel, Stephen B. Gordon, Kevin Mortimer
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

HJ, JR, SG and KM designed the study. HJ, LP and KM recruited all participants. HJ obtained and processed all samples, analysed the data, and drafted the manuscript. All authors contributed to and approved the final manuscript.

Abstract

Background

Air pollution is associated with a high burden or morbidity and mortality, but exposure cannot be quantified rapidly or cheaply. The particulate burden of macrophages from induced sputum may provide a biomarker. We compare the feasibility of two methods for digital quantification of airway macrophage particulate load.

Methods

Induced sputum samples were processed and analysed using ImageJ and Image SXM software packages. We compare each package by resources and time required.

Results

13 adequate samples were obtained from 21 patients. Median particulate load was 0.38 μm2 (ImageJ) and 4.0 % of the total cellular area of macrophages (Image SXM), with no correlation between results obtained using the two methods (correlation coefficient = −0.42, p = 0.256). Image SXM took longer than ImageJ (median 26 vs 54 mins per participant, p = 0.008) and was less accurate based on visual assessment of the output images. ImageJ’s method is subjective and requires well-trained staff.

Conclusion

Induced sputum has limited application as a screening tool due to the resources required. Limitations of both methods compared here were found: the heterogeneity of induced sputum appearances makes automated image analysis challenging. Further work should refine methodologies and assess inter- and intra-observer reliability, if these methods are to be developed for investigating the relationship of particulate and inflammatory response in the macrophage.
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