Beryllium disease

Am J Med Sci. 2001 Jan;321(1):89-98. doi: 10.1097/00000441-200101000-00013.


Berylliosis is an environmental chronic inflammatory disorder of the lung caused by inhalation of insoluble beryllium (Be) dusts and characterized by the accumulation of CD4+ T cells and macrophages in the lower respiratory tract. In response to Be inhalation, noncaseating granuloma formation and, eventually, fibrosis. The immunopathogenic process is maintained by Be-specific lung CD4+ T-lymphocytes. Consistent with the disease immunopathology, these Be-specific T cells have a T-helper 1 phenotype producing interleukin-2 and interferon-gamma, the macrophage-activating cytokine driving the granulomatous reaction. Previous studies have demonstrated that the glutamic acid in position 69 of the human leukocyte antigen class II b chain is strongly associated with increased susceptibility to Be in exposed workers, suggesting that human leukocyte antigen gene markers may be used as epidemiological probes to identify population groups at higher risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Berylliosis / diagnosis
  • Berylliosis / epidemiology
  • Berylliosis / immunology
  • Berylliosis / physiopathology*
  • Beryllium
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • HLA-DP Antigens / genetics
  • HLA-DR Antigens / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lung / immunology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sarcoidosis / diagnosis


  • HLA-DP Antigens
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • Beryllium