Background: Previous studies have provided evidence for an inflammatory process in the large airways of subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), consisting predominantly of activated T cells. No data are available on the TH1 /TH2 T-cell cytokine pattern in this disease.
Objective: We sought to characterize the TH1 /TH2 T-cell cytokine pattern in subjects with COPD.
Methods: We examined the IFN-gamma and IL-4 expression in peripheral blood CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from 20 patients with COPD and 25 control subjects by using a flow cytometric method of intracellular cytokine detection. We also examined the expression of 2 surface activation markers (CD25 and HLA-DR) on peripheral blood CD4+ and CD8+ T cells.
Results: There was an increased percentage of IFN-gamma-producing cells (30.3% [range, 12.9% to 60.4%] vs 19.1% [range, 4% to 31.2%], P =.003) and a decreased percentage of IL-4-producing cells (4.55% [range, 0.6% to 11.3%] vs 9.5% [2.1% to 21.3%], P =.0008) among peripheral blood CD4+ T cells from the patients with COPD compared with control subjects. There was no significant difference between the 2 groups in the percentage of peripheral blood CD8+ T cells producing IFN-gamma or IL-4 or in the percentage of peripheral blood CD4+ and CD8+ T cells expressing CD25 and HLA-DR.
Conclusion: These findings provide evidence for a TH1 -like immune response of peripheral blood CD4+ T cells in subjects with COPD.