Increased expression of the chemokine receptor CXCR3 and its ligand CXCL10 in peripheral airways of smokers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2002 May 15;165(10):1404-9. doi: 10.1164/rccm.2107139.


CXCR3 is a chemokine receptor preferentially expressed on lymphocytes, particularly on type-1 T-lymphocytes. Smokers who develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have a chronic bronchopulmonary inflammation that is characterized by an increased infiltration of T-lymphocytes, particularly CD8(+), in the airways and lung parenchyma. To investigate the expression of CXCR3 and its ligand interferon-induced protein 10/CXCL10 in COPD, we counted the number of CXCR3(+) cells and analyzed the expression of CXCL10 in the peripheral airways of 19 patients undergoing lung resection for localized pulmonary lesions. We examined lung specimens from seven smokers with fixed airflow limitation (COPD), five smokers with normal lung function, and seven nonsmoking subjects with normal lung function. The number of CXCR3(+) cells was immunohistochemically quantified in the epithelium, in the submucosa, and in the adventitia of peripheral airways. The number of CXCR3(+) cells in the epithelium and submucosa was increased in smokers with COPD as compared with nonsmoking subjects, but not as compared with smokers with normal lung function. Immunoreactivity for the CXCR3-ligand CXCL10 was present in the bronchiolar epithelium of smokers with COPD but not in the bronchiolar epithelium of smoking and nonsmoking control subjects. Most CXCR3(+) cells coexpressed CD8 and produced interferon gamma. These findings suggest that the CXCR3/CXCL10 axis may be involved in the T cell recruitment that occurs in peripheral airways of smokers with COPD and that these T cells may have a type-1 profile.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Airway Resistance
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chemokine CXCL10
  • Chemokines, CXC / analysis*
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / immunology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / pathology*
  • Receptors, CXCR3
  • Receptors, Chemokine / analysis*
  • Reference Values
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Biomarkers
  • CXCR3 protein, human
  • Chemokine CXCL10
  • Chemokines, CXC
  • Receptors, CXCR3
  • Receptors, Chemokine