Pulmonary lymphoid neogenesis in idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2012 Feb 1;185(3):311-21. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201105-0927OC. Epub 2011 Nov 22.


Rationale: Patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH) present circulating autoantibodies against vascular wall components. Pathogenic antibodies may be generated in tertiary (ectopic) lymphoid tissues (tLTs).

Objectives: To assess the frequency of tLTs in IPAH lungs, as compared with control subjects and flow-induced PAH in patients with Eisenmenger syndrome, and to identify local mechanisms responsible for their formation, perpetuation, and function.

Methods: tLT composition and structure were studied by multiple immunostainings. Cytokine/chemokine and growth factor expression was quantified by real-time polymerase chain reaction and localized by immunofluorescence. The systemic mark of pulmonary lymphoid neogenesis was investigated by flow cytometry analyses of circulating lymphocytes.

Measurements and main results: As opposed to lungs from control subjects and patients with Eisenmenger syndrome, IPAH lungs contained perivascular tLTs, comprising B- and T-cell areas with high endothelial venules and dendritic cells. Lymphocyte survival factors, such as IL-7 and platelet-derived growth factor-A, were expressed in tLTs as well as the lymphorganogenic cytokines/chemokines, lymphotoxin-α/-β, CCL19, CCL20, CCL21, and CXCL13, which might explain the depletion of circulating CCR6(+) and CXCR5(+) lymphocytes. tLTs were connected with remodeled vessels via an ER-TR7(+) stromal network and supplied by lymphatic channels. The presence of germinal center centroblasts, follicular dendritic cells, activation-induced cytidine deaminase, and IL-21(+)PD1(+) follicular helper T cells in tLTs together with CD138(+) plasma cell accumulation around remodeled vessels in areas of immunoglobulin deposition argued for local immunoglobulin class switching and ongoing production.

Conclusions: We highlight the main features of lymphoid neogenesis specifically in the lungs of patients with IPAH, providing new evidence of immunological mechanisms in this severe condition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chemokines / metabolism
  • Choristoma / metabolism*
  • Choristoma / pathology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Eisenmenger Complex / complications
  • Familial Primary Pulmonary Hypertension
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / immunology*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / metabolism
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / pathology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / metabolism*
  • Lymphoid Tissue / pathology
  • Male
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • platelet-derived growth factor A