The basophil surface marker CD203c identifies Aspergillus species sensitization in patients with cystic fibrosis.

BACKGROUND: Colonization by Aspergillus fumigatus in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) can cause A fumigatus sensitization and/or allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA), which affects pulmonary function and clinical outcomes. Recent studies show that specific allergens upregulate the surface-expressed basophil marker CD203c in sensitized subjects, a response that can be readily measured by using flow cytometry.

OBJECTIVE: We sought to identify A fumigatus sensitization in patients with CF by using the basophil activation test (BAT).

METHODS: Patients with CF attending Beaumont Hospital were screened for study inclusion. BAT was used to identify A fumigatus sensitization. Serologic (total and A fumigatus-specific IgE), pulmonary function, and body mass index measurements were performed.

RESULTS: The BAT discriminates A fumigatus-sensitized from nonsensitized patients with CF. Persistent isolation of A fumigatus in sputum is a significant risk factor for A fumigatus sensitization. Levels of the A fumigatus-stimulated basophil activation marker CD203c inversely correlated with pulmonary function and body mass index in A fumigatus-sensitized but not nonsensitized patients with CF. Total and A fumigatus-specific IgE, but not IgG, levels are increased in A fumigatus-sensitized patients with CF and ABPA when compared with those in A fumigatus-sensitized and nonsensitized patients with CF without ABPA. Itraconazole treatment did not affect A fumigatus sensitization.

CONCLUSION: Combining the BAT with routine serologic testing allows classification of patients with CF into 3 groups: nonsensitized, A fumigatus-sensitized, and ABPA. Accurate and prompt identification of A fumigatus-associated clinical status might allow early and targeted therapeutic intervention, potentially improving clinical outcomes.