Based on previous studies [15, 16], subjects with ≥ 2% sputum eosinophils and < 61% sputum neutrophils were classified as eosinophilic asthma (EA), and those with > 61% sputum neutrophils and < 2% sputum eosinophils were classified as neutrophilic asthma (NA). Subjects with ≤ 61% sputum neutrophils and < 2% sputum eosinophils were classified as paucigranulocytic asthma (PGA). Twenty-eight children with exacerbated asthma in this study were divided into three groups: EA group (n = 12), NA group (n = 10) and PGA group (n = 6) according to the induced sputum cytology.

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