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Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis : Just Think of It!

William Merrill, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

Affiliations: New Orleans, LA 
 ,  Dr. Merrill is Director, Medicine Service Line, New Orleans Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Professor of Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine.

Correspondence to: William Merrill, MD, FCCP, Chief-Medical Service III, 1601 Perdido, New Orleans, LA 70112-1207; e-mail: william.merrill@med.va.gov



Chest. 2001;120(4):1055-1057. doi:10.1378/chest.120.4.1055
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Ambient air contains variable amounts of respirable foreign substances. Some of these substances are capable of inciting immune responses in the host inhaling them. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) represents one possible response of the lung to the inhalation of these antigenic substances. Subjects who are exposed to respirable antigens occasionally react to this by a complex immune response, involving both T-lymphocyte and B-lymphocyte activation in the lower respiratory tract.1 Disease resulting from antigen exposure is uncommon, even among subjects with similar exposures to the relevant antigens. This variability in disease expression following exposure suggests that the genetic background of affected individuals2 or other factors such as concomitant viral infection3 may be responsible for disease expression.

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