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Spontaneous monokine release by alveolar macrophages in chronic sarcoidosis.

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Third Department of Internal Medicine, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, FRG.


In pulmonary sarcoidosis an activation of alveolar T lymphocytes and alveolar macrophages (AM) has been demonstrated. There is evidence that in contrast to acute disease a heightened T-cell response cannot be observed in the chronic phase of sarcoidosis. The role of AM in the inflammatory process of chronic sarcoidosis is not yet intensively evaluated. To address this question we measured the release of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha) and interleukin-1 (IL-1) by AM of 39 patients with chronic sarcoidosis (duration greater than 4 years; 30 active, 9 inactive diseases) without therapy and correlated the monokine release with parameters of T-cell alveolitis and the course of the disease. The T4/T8 ratio was higher in the active than in the inactive group without reaching statistical significance. TNF alpha as well as IL-1 is spontaneously released by AM of the active group 2,099 +/- 518 pg/ml TNF alpha/10(6) cells/24 h and 8/13 (IL-1+/total) respectively. In the inactive group the AM release 375 +/- 246 pg/ml TNF alpha/10(6) cells/24 h which is in the range of the control and 1 out of 5 patients was IL-1-positive. There was no correlation between the monokine release and any parameter of T-cell alveolitis. These data support the hypothesis that the inflammatory process in chronic sarcoidosis is dominated by the activity of AM and that this activity determines the course of the disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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