Neurotrophin system activation in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid immune cells in pulmonary sarcoidosis

Alberto Ricci, Salvatore Mariotta, Cesare Saltini, Carlo Falasca, Maria Rosaria Giovagnoli, Francesco Mannino, Paolo Graziano, Salvatore Sciacchitano, Francesco Amenta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aim of the study: Pulmonary sarcoidosis is a chronic granulomatous disease characterized by macrophage and CD4+ T-cell accumulation at the site of inflammation. Analysis of the cytokine network has substantially improved knowledge on immunopathogenesis of sarcoidosis. We hypothesize that neurotrophins (NTs), nerve growth factor (NGF), brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and NT-3, besides their importance in immune system activities, participate in chronic inflammatory disorders and in repair processes. Methods: The expression of NTs and NT receptors was assessed in broncho alveolar lavage (BAL) macrophages, CD4 and CD8 T-cells, from 10 patients with pulmonary sarcoidosis, using molecular biology, Western blotting and immunocytochemistry. Results: Increased levels of NTs and of high affinity NT receptor (Trks) transcripts and proteins in BAL macrophages, CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells from pulmonary sarcoidosis patients were demonstrated in comparison with healthy controls. Contrarily to healthy controls, in pulmonary sarcoidosis the expression of NGF was increased in alveolar macrophages as well as NGF and BDNF in CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells. An increased expression of TrkA, TrkB and TrkC receptors was also noticeable. Furthermore, BDNF expression in alveolar macrophages and NT-3 expression in the three different BAL immune cell populations investigated were induced during sarcoidosis. A significant correlation was observed between CD4:CD8 ratio, lymphocytosis, radiological stage and CD4 and CD8 NT expression. Conclusions: These findings suggest that NTs are exaggeratedly expressed in BAL immune cells in pulmonary sarcoidosis and may participate in the progression of disease modulating immune cell functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-194
Number of pages9
JournalSarcoidosis Vasculitis and Diffuse Lung Diseases
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005


  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Lymphocytes
  • Macrophages
  • Molecular biology
  • Neurotrophins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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