Up-regulation of programmed death-1 expression on beryllium-specific CD4+ T cells in chronic beryllium disease

J Immunol. 2008 Feb 15;180(4):2704-12. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.180.4.2704.


Chronic beryllium disease (CBD) is caused by workplace exposure to beryllium and is characterized by the accumulation of memory CD4+ T cells in the lung. These cells respond vigorously to beryllium salts in culture by producing proinflammatory Th1-type cytokines. The presence of these inflammatory cytokines leads to the recruitment of alveolar macrophages, alveolitis, and subsequent granuloma development. It has been shown that chronic exposure to conventional Ags leads to up-regulation in the expression of negative regulators of T cells such as programmed death-1 (PD-1). Due to the persistence of beryllium in the lung after the cessation of exposure, aberrant regulation of the PD-1 pathway may play an important role in CBD development. In the present study, PD-1 expression was measured on blood and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) CD4+ T cells from beryllium-sensitized and CBD subjects. PD-1 expression was significantly higher on BAL CD4+ T cells compared with those cells in blood, with the highest expression on the beryllium-specific T cell subset. In addition, the expression of PD-1 on BAL CD4+ T cells directly correlated with the severity of the T cell alveolitis. Increased expression of the PD-1 ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2, on BAL CD14+ cells compared with blood was also seen. The addition of anti-PD-1 ligand mAbs augmented beryllium-induced CD4+ T cell proliferation, and an inverse correlation was seen between PD-1 expression on beryllium-specific CD4+ T cells and beryllium-induced proliferation. Thus, the PD-1 pathway is active in beryllium-induced disease and plays a key role in controlling beryllium-induced T cell proliferation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigens, CD / biosynthesis*
  • Antigens, CD / genetics*
  • Antigens, CD / physiology
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / genetics*
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / physiology
  • Berylliosis / immunology*
  • Berylliosis / metabolism*
  • Beryllium / immunology*
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Chronic Disease
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor
  • Up-Regulation / genetics
  • Up-Regulation / immunology*


  • Antigens, CD
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • PDCD1 protein, human
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor
  • Beryllium