Inflammatory cell phenotyping of the pulmonary interstitium in idiopathic interstitial pneumonia

Edwin Roger Parra, Ronaldo Adib Kairalla, Carlos Roberto Ribeiro de Carvalho, Esmeralda Eher, Vera Luiza Capelozzi
Respiration; International Review of Thoracic Diseases 2007, 74 (2): 159-69

BACKGROUND: Several studies have implicated the role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of lung damage in idiopathic interstitial pneumonias (IIPs). Investigations of inflammatory cells in IIP have show that eosinophils, neutrophils and T cells may be associated with a poorer prognosis.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of our study was to map, by quantitative analysis, the number of inflammatory cells in the lung tissue of patients with non-specific interstitial pneumonia/non-specific interstitial pneumonia (NSIP/NSIP), acute interstitial pneumonia/diffuse alveolar damage (AIP/DAD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis/usual interstitial pneumonia (IPF/UIP) and to correlate them with lung function tests and survival.

METHODS: After immunohistochemical staining, we quantified the content of inflammatory cells [macrophages, neutrophils (elastase+), plasma cells, and CD3, CD4 and CD8 T lymphocytes (TLs)] in 20 NSIP, 20 DAD and 20 UIP surgical lung biopsies.

RESULTS: The total density of inflammatory cells was significantly increased in DAD and NSIP when compared to UIP (p = 0.04). TLs were increased in DAD and NSIP when compared to UlP lungs (p < 0.05). The density of inflammatory cells in UIP showed significant differences in normal, intervening and dense fibrosis areas (p < 0.05). The most numerous cells infiltrating the mural fibrosis and honeycombing areas were plasma cells, neutrophils (elastase+), CD20+, CD3+, CD4+ and CD8+ (p < 0.05). In UIP, CD3+ TLs were directly correlated with forced expiratory volume in 1 s/forced vital capacity ratio x 100 (p = 0.05). CD68+ cells presented a significant positive correlation with the forced expiratory volume in 1 s (p = 0.04); neutrophil (elastase+) cells significantly correlated with residual volume (p = 0.02), residual volume/total lung capacity (p = 0.04) and carbon monoxide transfer factor (p = 0.03). The most important predictor of survival in UIP was CD3+ TLs (p = 0.05).

CONCLUSION: The total density of inflammatory cells and lymphocytes presents a different distribution within the pulmonary parenchyma in AIP/DAD, NSIP/NSIP and IPF/UIP evolutionary adapted responses to injury. There is a localized distribution of inflammation in the normal, intervening and dense fibrosis areas of UIP for CD3+, associated with a lethal deterioration of the pulmonary function and poor survival. Our findings provide further evidence of the importance of inflammation in the pathophysiology of IIPs.

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