The role of flexible bronchoscopy and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) for the care of children with airway and pulmonary diseases is well established, with collected BAL fluid most often used clinically for microbiologic pathogen identification and cellular analyses. More recently, powerful analytic research methods have been used to investigate BAL samples to better understand the pathophysiological basis of pediatric respiratory disease. Investigations have focused on the cellular components contained in BAL fluid, such as macrophages, lymphocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, and mast cells, as well as the noncellular components such as serum molecules, inflammatory proteins, and surfactant. Molecular techniques are frequently used to investigate BAL fluid for the presence of infectious pathologies and for cellular gene expression. Recent advances in proteomics allow identification of multiple protein expression patterns linked to specific respiratory diseases, whereas newer analytic techniques allow for investigations on surfactant quantification and function. These translational research studies on BAL fluid have aided our understanding of pulmonary inflammation and the injury/repair responses in children. We review the ethics and practices for the execution of BAL in children for translational research purposes, with an emphasis on the optimal handling and processing of BAL samples.
- Accepted February 7, 2014.
- Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics