Characterization of lymphocyte populations in nonspecific interstitial pneumonia

Karina A. Keogh, Andrew H. Limper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Study objectives: Nonspecific interstitial pneumonia (NSIP) has been identified as a distinct entity with a more favorable prognosis and better response to immunosuppressive therapies than usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP). However the inflammatory profile of NSIP has not been characterized. Design: Using immunohistochemistry techniques on open lung biopsy specimens, the infiltrate in NSIP was characterized in terms of T and B cells, and macrophages, and the T cell population further identified as either CD4 (helper) or CD8 (suppressor-cytotoxic) T cells. The extent of Th1 and Th2 cytokine producing cells was determined and compared to specimens from patients with UIP. Results: In ten NSIP tissue samples 41.4 ± 4% of mononuclear cells expressed CD3, 24.7 ± 1.8% CD4, 19.1 ± 2% CD8, 27.4 ± 3.9% CD20, and 14.3 ± 1.6% had CD68 expression. Mononuclear cells expressed INFγ 21.9 ± 1.9% of the time and IL-4 in 3.0 ± 1%. In contrast, biopsies from eight patients with UIP demonstrated substantially less cellular staining for either cytokine (INFγ; 4.6 ± 1.7% and IL-4; 0.6 ± 0.3%). Significant populations of CD20 positive B-cells were also identified. Conclusions: The lymphocytic infiltrate in NSIP is characterized by an elevated CD4/CD8 T-cell ratio, and is predominantly of Th1 type, with additional populations rich in B-cells. Such features are consistent with the favorable clinical course observed in patients with NSIP compared to UIP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number137
JournalRespiratory Research
StatePublished - Nov 15 2005


  • Cytokines
  • Lymphocytes
  • Nonspecific interstitial pneumonitis
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Usual interstitial pneumonitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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