Dendritic cells and macrophages in lung allografts: A role in chronic rejection?

Colm T. Leonard, Paola M. Soccal, Lianne Singer, Gerald J. Berry, James Theodore, Patrick G. Holt, Ramona L. Doyle, Glenn D. Rosen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Antigen presentation by lung macrophages/dendritic cells (DC) is thought to be important in obliterative bronchiolitis/bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (OB/BOS), which severely limits survival post-lung transplantation. However, a recent study found minimal numbers of DC in lung allografts. We looked at numbers and phenotype of macrophages/DC in lung allografts using endobronchial biopsy (EBB) and transbronchial biopsy (TBB) from 22 lung transplant patients. Biopsies were stained with monoclonal markers of DC (CD1a, RFD1, and major histocompatibility complex [MHC] Class II), and 'suppressor macrophages' (RFD1 and RFD7). Dendritic cells were also stained for the costimulatory molecules CD80 and CD86. Significantly greater numbers of DC/high-power field (HPF) were seen in biopsies when we defined DC using dendritic morphology and Class II MHC expression instead of CD1a expression. Dendritic cell numbers were significantly higher in eight patients with OB/BOS compared with 14 stable patients. Fifty percent of DC expressed CD86 and 20% expressed CD80. There was no difference in CD80 or CD86 expression between OB/BOS patients and stable patients. There was no correlation between DC numbers and presence or absence of acute rejection (AR), and/or cytomegalovirus (CMV) pneumonitis on current or prior biopsies. There were significantly more MHC Class II DC in EBB compared with TBB. We found minimal staining for lung macrophages capable of suppressing T-cell inflammation. We conclude that studies of lung allografts may underestimate DC numbers if relying on CD1a as the sole marker of DC. DC are increased in patients with OB/BOS compared with stable patients. EBB may be more important than TBB in looking for inflammatory changes of OB. DC expressing costimulatory molecules are present in lung allografts, and costimulatory pathway blockade may be useful in human lung allografts. Also, the absence of 'suppressor' macrophages may increase susceptibility of human lung allografts to the rejection process.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1349-1354
    Number of pages5
    JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
    Issue number4 I
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


    • Adult
    • methods: Biopsy
    • immunology: Bronchiolitis Obliterans
    • Cell Count
    • immunology: Dendritic Cells
    • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate
    • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
    • immunology: Graft Rejection
    • Humans
    • Immunoenzyme Techniques
    • immunology: Lung
    • immunology: Lung Transplantation
    • immunology: Macrophages, Alveolar


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