The beryllium lymphocyte proliferation test: Relevant issues in beryllium health surveillance

Am J Ind Med. 2004 Nov;46(5):453-62. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20082.


Background: The beryllium lymphocyte proliferation test (Be-LPT) measures beryllium-specific cellular immune response, and is useful in medical surveillance of beryllium sensitivity and chronic beryllium disease (CBD).

Methods: Current and former employees (n = 12,194) of 18 United States Department of Energy (DOE) sites were tested for beryllium sensitization at four laboratories with Be-LPT expertise. Beryllium sensitized individuals were offered evaluations for CBD. The sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value (PPV) of the Be-LPT were determined, as was inter- and intra-laboratory agreement.

Results: False positives were calculated to be 1.09%, with a laboratory range of 0.00-3.35% for the 10-year investigation. Be-LPTs performed on inter-laboratory split blood specimens from sensitized individuals showed a false negative rate of 31.7%. The intra-laboratory repeatability of abnormal Be-LPT results ranged from 80.4-91.9%. The sensitivity of the Be-LPT was determined to be 0.683, with a specificity of 0.969. The PPV of one abnormal Be-LPT was 0.253.

Conclusions: The Be-LPT is efficacious in medical surveillance of beryllium-exposed individuals. The PPV of the Be-LPT is comparable to other widely accepted medical tests. Confirmation of an abnormal result is recommended to assure appropriate referral for CBD medical evaluation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Berylliosis / diagnosis*
  • Berylliosis / immunology
  • Beryllium / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Immunologic Tests / methods*
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Occupational Diseases / immunology
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Population Surveillance
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • United States


  • Beryllium