Elevated peripheral eosinophils are associated with new-onset and persistent wheeze and airflow obstruction in world trade center-exposed individuals

Angeliki Kazeros, Ming Tyh Maa, Paru Patrawalla, Mengling Liu, Yongzhao Shao, Meng Qian, Meredith Turetz, Sam Parsia, Caralee Caplan-Shaw, Kenneth I. Berger, Roberta Goldring, Linda Rogers, Joan Reibman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background. Exposure to World Trade Center (WTC) dust and fumes is associated with the onset of asthma-like respiratory symptoms in rescue and recovery workers and exposed community members. Eosinophilic inflammation with increased lung and peripheral eosinophils has been described in subpopulations with asthma. We hypothesized that persistent asthma-like symptoms in WTC-exposed individuals would be associated with systemic inflammation characterized by peripheral eosinophils. Methods. The WTC Environmental Health Center (WTC EHC) is a treatment program for local residents, local workers, and cleanup workers with presumed WTC-related symptoms. Patients undergo a standardized evaluation including questionnaires and complete blood count. Between September 2005 and March 2009, 2462 individuals enrolled in the program and were available for analysis. Individuals with preexisting respiratory symptoms or lung disease diagnoses prior to September 2001 and current or significant tobacco use were excluded, Results. One thousand five hundred and seventeen individuals met the inclusion criteria. Patients had a mean age of 47 years, were mostly female (51%), and had a diverse race/ethnicity. Respiratory symptoms that developed after WTC dust/fume exposure and remained persistent included dyspnea on exertion (68%), cough (57%), chest tightness (47%), and wheeze (33%). A larger percentage of patients with wheeze had elevated peripheral eosinophils compared with those without wheeze (21% vs. 13%, p < .0001). Individuals with elevated peripheral eosinophils were more likely to have airflow obstruction on spirometry (16% vs. 7%, p = .0003). Conclusion. Peripheral eosinophils were associated with wheeze and airflow obstruction in a diverse WTC-exposed population. These data suggest that eosinophils may participate in lung inflammation in this population with symptoms consistent with WTC-related asthma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-32
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Asthma
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Asthma
  • Eosinophil
  • Spirometry
  • World Trade Center


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