Immune mechanisms in beryllium lung disease
Sharad D. Deodhar, MD, PhDAddress reprint requests to S.D.D., The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, One Clinic Center, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44195-5131.
Barbara P. Barna, PhD
The role of the immune system in the pathogenesis of beryllium lung disease has been suspected for years. The observation of cutaneous hypersensitivity to beryllium led to the development of the lymphocyte blast transformation test; the test clearly distinguishes between healthy subjects, who show little or no blast transformation response, and patients with beryllium lung disease, who demonstrate significant responses. The degree of blast transformation also correlates with the severity of the clinical disease. Animal studies have demonstrated the importance of histocompatibility antigens in development of the disease, and support the participation of cellular immune mechanisms.