Chronic beryllium disease: a model interaction between innate and acquired immunity

Int Immunopharmacol. 2002 Feb;2(2-3):249-61. doi: 10.1016/s1567-5769(01)00177-1.


Beryllium (Be) is a lightweight and durable metal useful to a variety of manufacturing processes. With the use of Be in industrial settings, a number of health effects were noted including acute pneumonitis, sensitization to Be, interstitial lung disease and dermatological disease. Interstitial mononuclear cell inflammation and granuloma formation are the primary processes that occur in the lungs of Be-exposed workers, resulting in chronic beryllium disease (CBD). Recent studies have begun to describe the role of Be in the pathogenesis of CBD. These studies reveal that the host's response to Be involves components of the innate immune system or inflammatory responses. Inflammatory responses to Be can establish a state of acquired, Be antigen-specific, cell-mediated immunity. Despite triggering both the innate and acquired immune responses, Be is not eliminated from the host. Rather, it establishes pathways leading to chronic granulomatous inflammation. We will examine recent studies describing the host's cellular and molecular responses to Be, responses that promote granuloma formation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Berylliosis / genetics
  • Berylliosis / immunology*
  • Berylliosis / physiopathology
  • Beryllium / adverse effects*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Active* / drug effects
  • Immunity, Innate* / drug effects
  • Inflammation / chemically induced
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Immunological*


  • Beryllium