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Am Rev Respir Dis. 1991 Aug;144(2):278-83.

Human alveolar macrophage antibacterial activity in the alcoholic lung.

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  • 1Département de Pneumologie, Hôpital A. Calmette, Lille, France.


Alcoholic individuals are predisposed to respiratory infections. However, mechanisms of perturbations leading to increased susceptibility to lung infections of individuals with alcoholic liver cirrhosis (ALC) are not fully understood. We studied the antibacterial activity and oxidant generation (before and after stimulation by phorbol myristate acetate or opsonized zymosan) of alveolar macrophages from 16 patients with ALC. Our results were compared with those obtained from 12 healthy control subjects, from 8 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), and from 8 alcoholic individuals without cirrhosis. All were nonsmokers, had normal chest X-rays, and did not present evidence of lung infection 3 months before. The total number of cells recovered by bronchoalveolar lavage did not significantly differ between control subjects and patients. The cellular viability of alveolar macrophages (trypan blue exclusion) was greater than 90% in all cases. The antibacterial activity of alveolar macrophages versus Staphylococcus aureus was severely impaired in ALC (-21 +/- 8.2%) whereas it was normal in PBC (52 +/- 4.2%), in alcoholic subjects (44.6 +/- 5.4%), and in control subjects (60 +/- 5.5%). The same pattern of results was observed versus Escherichia coli (-47.7 +/- 10,28 +/- 8,28 +/- 12, and 29 +/- 8.5%, respectively). Previous incubation of normal alveolar macrophages with serum or BAL fluid from ALC patients or with normal serum or normal BAL fluid did not result in a significant decrease in antibacterial activity of normal alveolar macrophages. To distinguish ingested bacteria from adherent extracellular bacteria, cells that had been incubated with bacteria for 90 min were then incubated with lysostaphin (1 microgram/ml).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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