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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2004 Dec;287(6):L1160-4. Epub 2004 Jul 30.

Fibrogenic cytokine levels in bronchoalveolar lavage aspirates 15 years after exposure to sulfur mustard.

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Research Center for Chemical Injuries, Baqiyatallah University School of Medicine, IR Iran.


Over 100,000 Iranian war veterans suffer from chronic effects of mustard gas exposure. Sulfur mustard was used by Iraq during the Iraqi-imposed war on Iran (between 1980 and 1988). The major complaints of these patients are mild interstitial fibrosis and bronchiolitis. We aimed to determine the state of fibrosis progression and assessed transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1 levels in pulmonary samples and in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) aspirates. A total of 126 war veterans confirmed for lung disease were assessed and compared with three control groups: 1) 64 veterans not exposed to chemical agents, 2) 12 idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis civilian patients, and 3) 33 normal persons. BAL was performed via a flexible fiber-optic bronchoscope and the standard manual method. Total protein was measured by Bradford assay, and samples were corrected with regard to coefficients. Samples were concentrated 15-fold by lyophilization and resolubilization. Samples were double-checked using an ELISA test kit. The Mann-Whitney test was used for the data analysis using commercial software. We detected that significant differences between TGF-beta1 levels between the case group and control group 1 (P = 0.001) and control group 3 (P = 0.003). No significant differences were found between the case group and control group 2 (P = 0.57). Inflammation and fibrotic processes in lung tissue of patients exposed to sulfur mustard may be progressive so IFN-gamma may be a useful drug to these patients' treatment.

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