Background: Lymphocytic alveolitis is a common feature of Wegener's granulomatosis (WG) and sarcoidosis. In pulmonary sarcoidosis analysis of the T cell receptor (TCR) configuration disclosed a biased TCR repertoire in cells obtained by bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), suggesting that the pulmonary T cell population contains an oligoclonal, probably antigenically selected component. We examined whether this is also a feature of WG. Methods: The distribution of 16 TCR Vβ phenotypes on BAL cells was compared with the distribution on autologous blood cells in 8 WG patients with lymphocytic alveolitis. A control group was composed of 5 patients with active pulmonary sarcoidosis. The two groups were comparable with respect to the lymphocyte count in BAL and the distribution of the CD4+ and CD8+ T cell subsets in BAL and the blood. Overutilization of individual Vβ phenotypes on BAL cells was considered to be significant when the percentage of positive cells in BAL doubled than in the blood and the frequency in BAL was at least 10% of total BAL T cells. Results: All 5 sarcoidosis patients showed substantial overutilization of individual Vβ families in BAL as compared with the blood. By contrast, only 2 of the 8 WG patients showed overutilization of individual Vβ phenotypes in BAL. Conclusions: These findings do not suggest that the T cell population in BAL of WG patients contains a prominent oligoclonal component. While BAL is a convenient approach to obtain T cells from a site of active disease, BAL cells do not appear to be good material for the isolation of clonally selected T cells in WG.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)