Rationale: Blood eosinophil counts are used to inform diagnosis/management of eosinophilic asthma. Objectives: Examine blood eosinophil variability and identify factors affecting eosinophil levels to inform clinical interpretation. Methods: Post hoc analysis to understand eosinophil variability using data from four randomized controlled asthma trials. We examined 1) influence of intrinsic/extrinsic factors (comorbidities, medication, and patient history) using baseline data (n = 2,612); 2) monthly variation using placebo-treated patient data (n = 713); 3) stability of eosinophil classification (,150, 150-299, and >300 cells/ml) in placebo-treated patients with monthly measurements over a 1-year period (n = 751); and 4) impact of technical factors (laboratory-to-laboratory differences and time from collection to analysis). Results: Of intrinsic/extrinsic factors examined, nasal polyps increased eosinophil levels by 38%, whereas current smoking decreased levels by 23%. Substantial seasonal differences in eosinophil counts were observed, with differences of ∼20% between July and January. Eosinophil levels between 150 and 299 cells/ml were least stable, with 44% of patients remaining in the same classification for seven of 10 measurements versus 59% and 66% of patients in the ,150 and ≥300 cells/ml subgroups, respectively. Measurements at different laboratories showed high association (Spearman's correlation coefficient, R = 0.89); however, eosinophil counts were reduced, with longer time from collection to analysis, and variability increased with increasing eosinophil counts. Conclusions: Several intrinsic, extrinsic, and technical factors may influence, and should be considered in, clinical interpretation of eosinophil counts. Additionally, a single measurement may not be sufficient when using eosinophil counts for diagnosis/management of eosinophilic asthma.
- Eosinophil count
- Patient management
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine