Bronchoalveolar lavage cytokine profile in a cohort of lung transplant recipients: a predictive role of interleukin-12 with respect to onset of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome

Federica Meloni, Patrizio Vitulo, Alessandro Cascina, Tiberio Oggionni, Anna Bulgheroni, Enrica Paschetto, Catherine Klersy, Andrea M D'Armini, Anna Fietta, Alessia Marone Bianco, Eloisa Arbustini, Mario Viganò
Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation 2004, 23 (9): 1053-60

BACKGROUND: Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome is the main long-term complication of lung transplantation that limits survival of lung transplant patients. Its pathophysiologic mechanisms are still poorly understood but it seems to result from a chronic immunologic/inflammatory insult leading to excessive fibroproliferation. The aim of this longitudinal study of 44 lung recipients was to determine whether a number of bronchoalveolar lavage and clinical variables are associated with a higher risk of developing bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome.

METHODS: Bronchoalveolar lavage studies involved assessment of several cytokines including: interleukin-8, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, regulated-upon-activation normal T cell expressed and secreted (RANTES), gamma-interferon, interleukin-12, interleukin-10 and transforming growth factor-beta.

RESULTS: The predictivity of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) features with respect to onset of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome was assessed by the Cox regression model. Among clinical variables, bacterial and viral infections were found to significantly predict occurrence of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (hazard ratio [HR] for bacterial infection: 13.044, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.34 to 126.69, p = 0.027; HR for viral infections: 4.88, 95% CI 1.004 to 22.87, p = 0.05). Among BAL variables, only IL-12 was significantly predictive of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (HR 0.956, 95% CI 0.901 to 1.01, p = 0.03). In addition, in a sub-group cross-sectional analysis, bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome patients were compared with clinically stable patients, and significant increases in median levels of interleukin-8 and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 BAL fluid were detected.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings support the contention that interleukin-12 plays a role in the modulation of the local pro-/anti-fibrotic balance of allograft airways.

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