We studied at necropsy the bronchi of 49 subjects whose lung function has been measured during life. In each case the glands were examined in three bronchi by measuring the gland/wall ratio (Reid-Index) and by point-counting. The results of the two methods were compared: the data of the gland/wall ratio were normally distributed while those of the volume density established by point-counting were not. Gland/wall ratio and volume density of glands correlated moderately (RSp = 0.524). The function between them was not linear, in contrast with that between gland/wall ratio and gland thickness. The stereological background of these functions is discussed. In 34 subjects without restrictive lung disease FEV1 correlated inversely with the volume density of glands (RSp = -0.396), but not with the gland/wall ratio (Reid-Index)(RSp = -0.243). This discrepancy probably results from the different distribution of the data obtained by the two methods and from the non-linear function between them. These findings indicate that the gland/wall ratio (Reid-Index) is less applicable to clinicopathological correlations than the volume density of glands established by point-counting.
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