[Apoptosis of alveolar lymphocytes. Part 1: pathways of lymphocyte apoptosis]

Pneumonol Alergol Pol. 2014;82(2):170-82. doi: 10.5603/PiAP.2014.0023.
[Article in Polish]


Apoptosis is a form of programmed cell death essential for maintaining homeostasis, including onset, progress and resolution of immune reactions. Two major apoptosis pathways: extrinsic (mediated by death receptors) and intrinsic (mitochondrial), were distinguished. Lymphocytes with cytotoxic activity may also initiate apoptosis of target cells by granzyme/perforin (pseudoreceptor) pathway. The specific apoptotic processes, i.e. activation induced cell death (AICD) and neglect induced death (NID), are types of extrinsic and intrinsic pathways, respectively. They both seem to be crucial in apoptosis of antigen-primed T cells during the contraction phase of inflammation. Alveolar lymphocytes (AL) are almost exclusively T effector cells, engaged in interstitial lung disease (ILD) pathophysiologies. The AL numbers in lower airways depends on recruitment to the lung, proliferation and local apoptosis. According to the references, it should be noted that AL usually do not proliferate in alveoli; their apoptosis rate accounts, on average, for 1% of cells in healthy subjects, and this is significantly decreased in disorders with lymphocytic alveolitis such as sarcoidosis and extrinsic allergic alveolitis (EAA). The mechanisms of AL apoptosis have not been completely explained. However, it is the NID process that is probably critical for the culling of T-cell response, as in EAA or sarcoidosis remission, with AICD as an auxiliary and/or modulating mechanism only. It should be emphasised that many ILDs are chronic disorders with no remission or improvement, and it is difficult to describe the AL response in terms of immune expansion/contraction.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Homeostasis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / immunology*
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / pathology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / immunology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology
  • Sarcoidosis, Pulmonary / immunology
  • Sarcoidosis, Pulmonary / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*