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J Heart Lung Transplant. 1999 Oct;18(10):972-85.

Measurement of fibroblast proliferative activity in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid in the analysis of obliterative bronchiolitis among lung transplant recipients.

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  • 1Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California at San Francisco, 94143-0359, USA.



Bronchiolitis obliterans occurs in 30% to 80% of lung-transplant recipients and is a direct cause of death in more than 40% of patients with this complication. This study assessed the potential utility of measuring fibroblast-proliferative activity in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from lung-transplant recipients to better understand the pathogenesis of this process.


The capacity of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid obtained from transplant recipients, during routine surveillance bronchoscopy, to stimulate the proliferation of human lung fibroblasts in vitro was assessed retrospectively and compared to that of control subjects. For each recipient, a correlation was made between the fibroblast-proliferative activity in serial lavage samples over time and the other modalities employed for detecting post-transplant complications including spirometry, transbronchial lung biopsy, and high-resolution computed tomography.


There was a significant difference in fibroblast-proliferative activity between volunteer and transplant recipient groups (p = 0.002). Further, for each transplant recipient, the decline in the forced expired flow rate between 25% and 75% of expired volume (FEF(25%-75%)) was correlated with the mean fibroblast-proliferative activity during the period of this study (r = 0.83; p = 0.04).


A sustained increase in fibroblast-proliferative activity in lavage supernatant precedes both histologic and physiologic evidence of bronchiolitis obliterans. Relative to an increase in fibroblast-proliferative activity or abnormalities in FEF25%-75%, a decrease in forced expiratory volume in 1 second is a late finding.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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