Objective: Patients with scleroderma (systemic sclerosis [SSc]) frequently develop interstitial lung disease. The purpose of this work was to evaluate the cell profile in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) in patients suffering from a diffuse form of systemic sclerosis as compared with healthy controls.
Study design: Bronchoalveolar lavage was carried out in the right middle lobe of 25 untreated, nonsmoking patients with SSc and 12 healthy, nonsmoking volunteers. For the analysis of lymphocyte subsets, the following monoclonal antibodies were used: anti-CD3, anti-CD4, anti-CD8, anti-CD14, anti-CD16, anti-CD19, anti-CD25, anti-CD45, anti-CD56. Also, anti-HLA-DR and flow cytometry were used.
Results: We found an increase in the total number of cells with an increase in the percentage of lymphocytes and neutrophils in BALF from patients when compared with controls (P < .05). The proportion of lymphocytes, cytotoxic/suppressor CD8+ and activated lymphocytes T CD25+ were higher in patients' BALF (P < .05). The CD4+/CD8+ ratio in BALF from subjects was significantly lower than in controls. These findings were characteristic of patients with early-stage disease.
Conclusion: Analysis of the BALF lymphocyte phenotype may be useful in the early detection of lung involvement in patients with SSc.