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Arch Bronconeumol. 2012 Jan;48(1):8-13. doi: 10.1016/j.arbres.2011.06.010. Epub 2011 Nov 30.

Latent pulmonary inflammation in patients with systemic sclerosis.

[Article in English, Spanish]

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  • 1Servei de Pneumologia, Hospital Vall d'Hebron, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain.



Induced sputum is a non-invasive method for studying pulmonary inflammation.


To assess pulmonary inflammation by analysis of induced sputum specimens in patients with systemic sclerosis and lung involvement, and to determine whether there is a correlation with the pulmonary function alterations in these patients.


Twenty-five patients with systemic sclerosis were included (20 women). Patients were divided into 3 groups according to the type of lung involvement: group 1, diffuse interstitial lung disease (n=10); group 2, those with pulmonary arterial hypertension (n=7), and group 3, patients with systemic sclerosis without lung involvement (n=8). All patients underwent a complete lung function study. Induced sputum samples were obtained and differential cell count was performed by optic microscopy.


The mean percentage of sputum neutrophils was 85%, 71%, and 75% for groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively. A significant negative correlation between sputum total cell count and DLCO was seen in group 1 and group 3 (r=-0.733, P=.016; and r=-0.893, P=.007, respectively). This negative correlation was not observed in group 2.


Pulmonary inflammation was present in all patients with systemic sclerosis included in the study, regardless of the presence of documented signs of pulmonary involvement. This finding suggests that induced sputum could be helpful for detecting early abnormalities indicative of subclinical pulmonary involvement in patients with systemic sclerosis.

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