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Am Rev Respir Dis. 1992 Jul;146(1):39-42.

Serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity in chronic beryllium disease.

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Department of Medicine, National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine, Denver, CO 80206.


Serum angiotensin converting enzyme (SACE) activity is used as a marker of sarcoidosis activity and severity, but in chronic beryllium disease (CBD) the studies of SACE give conflicting results. We examined SACE activity in 23 CBD patients, five patients with beryllium sensitization, and 25 beryllium-exposed control subjects. CBD patients underwent complete clinical evaluation, including physical examination, pulmonary function testing, exercise physiology testing, chest radiography, and bronchoscopy with bronchoalveolar lavage and biopsy. CBD SACE activity was systematically compared with these clinical markers of disease severity. Of CBD patients, 22% had elevated SACE activity. The test did not discriminate CBD patients from those in the beryllium-sensitized or beryllium-exposed groups. However, SACE activity in CBD correlated with the extent of pulmonary granulomatous inflammation as reflected by the symptom of breathlessness, the number of white cells in bronchoalveolar lavage (r = 0.44), the number of lavage lymphocytes (r = 0.58), the lavage lymphocyte percentage (r = 0.55), and the profusion of small opacities on chest radiograph (r = 0.41). The test-retest reliability of the assay was high (r = 0.84), as was the agreement between fresh and -70 degrees C frozen sera (r = 0.93). We conclude that SACE activity levels may reflect the extent of pulmonary granulomatous inflammation in CBD but that the test does not help discriminate disease from nondisease.

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