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Clinical Investigations: COPD |

Perforin Expression and Cytotoxic Activity of Sputum CD8+ Lymphocytes in Patients With COPD*

George Chrysofakis; Nikolaos Tzanakis; Despina Kyriakoy; Maria Tsoumakidou; Ioanna Tsiligianni; Maria Klimathianaki; Nikolaos M. Siafakas
Author and Funding Information

*From the Department of Thoracic Medicine, University Hospital of Heraklion, Medical School, Crete, Greece.

Correspondence to: Nikolaos M. Siafakas MD, PhD, FCCP, Professor of Thoracic Medicine, Department of Thoracic Medicine, University of Crete, Medical School, PO Box 1352, 71110 Heraklion, Crete, Greece; e-mail: siafak@med.uoc.gr



Chest. 2004;125(1):71-76. doi:10.1378/chest.125.1.71
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Background: Previous studies have shown that the inflammatory response to cigarette smoking differs between smokers who acquire COPD and those who do not, and the CD8+ T- lymphocytes have been identified as a key player in this response.

Objective: To investigate the cytotoxic activity and perforin expression of CD8+ lymphocytes in the airway lumen of patients with COPD.

Methods: Thirty-six male smokers with COPD, 25 male smokers without COPD, and 10 healthy nonsmokers participated in the study. T-lymphocytes of induced sputum samples were labeled with appropriate monoclonal antibodies and measured using flow cytometry. The cytotoxic activity of CD8+ cells was defined by incubating them with specific target cells (K562).

Results: The percentage and the total number of CD8+ lymphocytes were significantly higher in COPD smokers compared to non-COPD smokers (p = 0.01 and p = 0.005, respectively) or to healthy nonsmokers (p = 0.02 and p = 0.01, respectively). Perforin expression in CD8+ cells was significantly higher in smokers with COPD compared to the other two groups (p = 0.001). Increased cytotoxic activity of T cells was also observed in induced sputum of patients with COPD in comparison to the other two groups.

Conclusion: CD8+ cells are not only increased in number in sputum samples of smokers with COPD but are highly activated, expressing high levels of perforin. These findings suggest that CD8+ T-lymphocytes play a significant role in the inflammatory process of COPD.

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