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T-Cell Activation in the Lungs of Patients With Systemic Sclerosis and Its Relation With Pulmonary Fibrosis*

Paul Bresser, MD; Henk M. Jansen, MD; Frank R. Weller, MD; René Lutter, PhD; Theo A. Out, PhD
Author and Funding Information

From the Department of Pulmonology (Drs. Bresser, Jansen, and Weller) and Clinical Immunology Laboratory (Dr. Lutter), Academic Medical Center; and Laboratory for Experimental and Clinical Immunology (Dr. Out), CLB, Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Correspondence to: Henk M. Jansen, MD, Department of Pulmonology, Academic Medical Center, Room F4–206, PO Box 22700, 1100 DE Amsterdam, The Netherlands; e-mail: h.m.jansen@amc.uva.nl



Chest. 2001;120(1_suppl):S66-S68. doi:10.1378/chest.120.1_suppl.S66
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Systemic sclerosis is a multisystem disorder with an activated immune system playing a significant role in tissue damage. Activated T cells infiltrate perivascular inflammatory sites, skin, and interstitial tissue.1 A considerable number of patients present with impairment of pulmonary functions. In virtually all patients, the disease develops to alveolitis resulting in pulmonary fibrosis.2 The activation of T lymphocytes can be studied by measuring the expression of several cell surface molecules. In this respect, CD27 is an interesting molecule. CD27 is a member of the tumor necrosis factor-receptor family of proteins.3 The natural ligand for CD27 is CD70, and its expression is tightly related to antigen-specific activation of T cells.45 When there is an antigen-specific activation of T cells, the expression of CD27 decreases.5 This is in contrast to the CD25 (the chain of the receptor for interleukin-2 expression), which increases both after polyclonal and antigen-specific activation of T cells.6 Analysis of CD27 expression therefore provides the opportunity to study antigen-specific activation of T cells without necessarily knowing the nature of the antigen. We hypothesized that there is activation of T cells in the lungs of patients with systemic sclerosis long before the development of signs of pulmonary fibrosis. The analysis of T-cell activation markers on T cells from BAL fluid recovered from the patients may provide information on the nature of such activation.

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