Mononuclear cells in human lung parenchyma. Characterization of a potent accessory cell not obtained by bronchoalveolar lavage

L. P. Nicod, M. F. Lipscomb, J. C. Weissler, C. R. Lyons, J. Albertson, G. B. Toews

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49 Scopus citations


Human alveolar macrophages from bronchoalveolar lavage are usually poor accessory cells for antigen-induced T-lymphocyte proliferation and poor stimulators of allogeneic mixed leukocyte reactions (MLR) when compared to peripheral blood monocytes. In contrast, cells harvested from minced lungs are good stimulators of a MLR. We have characterized the accessory cells obtained after enzymatic digestion of human lung tissue. Pulmonary mononuclear cells were separated from the dissociated lung cell mixture on Ficoll-Hypaque. Loosely adherent cells (LAM) were obtained after an overnight incubation on plastic culture dishes of initially adherent mononuclear cells. LAM were significantly more effective than were pulmonary mononuclear cells (p < 0.05), firmly adherent cells (p < 0.05), alveolar macrophages obtained by bronchoalveolar lavage (p < 0.05), or monocytes (p < 0.05) in stimulating allogeneic resting T-cells. Addition of indomethacin and catalase markedly improved T-cell proliferation induced by LAM. Enrichment for Fc receptor negative or for nonphagocytic cells further enhanced the MLR-stimulating capacity of LAM. Phase-contrast studies demonstrated an enrichment in cells compatible with dendritic cells in LAM as compared to firmly adherent cells. We conclude that there are potent accessory cells in human lung that are loosely adherent, Fc receptor negative, and poorly phagocytic, and thus are dissimilar from classic macrophages. We hypothesize that cells similar to dendritic cells might play a role in the initiation of immune responses in lung parenchyma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)818-823
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Review of Respiratory Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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