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The proliferation of lymphocytes induced by Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) was measured by the in vitro incorporation of 3H-thymidine. The mean response rate of alveolar lymphocytes obtained by bronchoalveolar lavage was 2.23 +/- 0.89 in nine untreated sarcoidosis patients, 0.85 +/- 0.17 in five sarcoidosis patients given corticosteroids and 0.78 +/- 0.29 in 11 controls. The proliferation was significantly enhanced in the untreated patients compared to both the treated patients (p less than 0.01) and controls (p less than 0.001), but there was no significant difference in response rates between the treated patients and controls. The response rate of alveolar lymphocytes was significantly higher in four active patients (3.05 +/- 0.61) than in four inactive patients (1.77 +/- 0.44) (p less than 0.05) and in the controls (p less than 0.001). In sarcoidosis patients, the response rates showed a good correlation with activities of serum lysozyme (r = 0.695, p less than 0.01), and with percentages of lymphocytes in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (r = 0.591, p less than 0.05). There was a low correlation between angiotensin-converting enzyme activities and the response rates (r = 0.508, p less than 0.1). Neither peripheral blood lymphocytes in sarcoidosis patients nor in controls showed any response to P. acnes, but alveolar lymphocytes of the untreated active sarcoidosis patients were sensitive to P. acnes. The lymphocytes activated by P. acnes may play a central role in the induction of alveolitis in sarcoidosis patients.
Acta Medica Okayama
Okayama University Medical School
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