Bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue (BALT) was first described in the lungs of rabbits and differs greatly between species. It is part of the integrated mucosal immune system. This review clarifies its morphological definition and focuses on the situation in humans. The frequency of BALT at different ages, after chronic stimulation and in different diseases is described. In healthy humans, BALT can only be found in the lungs of children and adolescents. The role of BALT in lung transplantation and in the development of low-grade malignant lymphomas in the airways is also discussed. Furthermore, questions concerning the inducibility of BALT as an entry site for vaccines, and the regulation of its activity for future therapeutic interventions in pulmonary immune reactions are addressed.
Copyright 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel.