Background Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) is a condition characterized by an exaggerated response of the immune system to the fungus Aspergillus. This study aimed to assess the relationship between carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and eosinophils in ABPA patients.
Methods: We describes a case of a 50-year-old patient who was diagnosed with ABPA presenting with high level of CEA and eosinophils. Besides,we used immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence to identify eosinophils and CEA in sections which were obtained by Endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial lung biopsy aspiration (EBUS-TBLB). The sections were then visualized using confocal microscopy. We also retrospectively analyzed a cohort of 37 ABPA patients between January 2013 and December 2019 in our hospital.
Results: We found the patient whose serum CEA levels were consistent with eosinophils during the follow-up(r=0.929,P=0.022). The positive expression of CEA and abnormal expression of eosinophils was higher in the ABPA tissue compared to the normal lung tissue. The co-localization was represented as pixels containing both red and green color in the image (with various shades of orange and yellow) which signified that eosinophils were immunohistochemically positive for CEA. Patients with higher levels of eosinophils had higher levels of CEA in the serum (P<0.001). The results of Pearson correlation analysis showed that the levels of eosinophils were positively correlated with serum CEA levels(r=0.459 and r=0.506，P=0.004 and P=0.001).
Conclusion: Serum CEA level is elevated in ABPA patients. The elevated serum CEA level was shown to be normalized after treatment. Increased CEA levels in ABPA patients may be positively correlated with eosinophil levels, and eosinophils may be served as CEA-secreting cells in patients with ABPA.