Human alveolar macrophages: HLA-DR-positive macrophages that are poor stimulators of a primary mixed leukocyte reaction

M. F. Lipscomb, C. R. Lyons, G. Nunez, E. J. Ball, P. Stastny, W. Vial, V. Lem, J. Weissler, L. M. Miller

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81 Scopus citations


Previous studies demonstrated that alveolar macrophages (AM) from most normal human volunteers failed to stimulate the antigen-induced proliferation of peripheral blood T lymphocytes although greater than 90% of AM expressed HLA-DR antigens. The current studies establish that AM also fail to induce allogeneic peripheral blood mononuclear cells to proliferate in a mixed leukocyte reaction (MLR). Suppressive activity by AM was not an explanation for their failure to induce an MLR. Indirect immunofluorescence established the presence of both HLA-DR and DQ antigens on the majority of AM and the persistence of these antigens on cells in culture for up to 6 days, the period of time required to observe a maximal MLR. Metabolic labeling experiments also demonstrated that HLA-DR antigens were synthesized by AM. It was recently reported that AM secrete relatively small amounts of IL 1, an important ancillary signal provided by accessory cells to enhance the stimulation of lymphocyte proliferation. However, addition of optimal concentrations of IL 1 to cultures containing AM failed to enhance the MLR. Thus, there is at least one additional, but as yet undefined, requirement for an accessory cell to induce an optimal MLR besides the display of HLA-D region antigens and the secretion of IL 1. In contrast, AM were effective in specifically stimulating proliferation of alloreactive T cell lines, suggesting that at least some cell lines do not require this nonspecific undefined second signal. We speculate that although AM may not initiate primary immune responses in the lung, they may be important in maintaining immune-mediated inflammatory responses by specifically restimulating already activated T cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-504
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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