Pulmonary histiocytosis X is the local manifestation of a systemic disorder of unknown cause characterised by infiltration of Langerhans cell like histiocytes and parenchymal fibrosis. In a male smoker with histologically proved histiocytosis X and functional impairment bronchoalveolar lavage showed an increase in CD-1/OKT-6 antigen positive histiocytes to 8%. Northern blot analysis of RNA from bronchoalveolar lavage cells showed an exaggerated expression of the M-CSF gene and of the c-fms gene encoding for the corresponding receptor. An increased level of c-sis RNA, which encodes the B chain of platelet derived growth factor, was also found. Diffuse reticulonodular infiltrates on the chest radiograph resolved with glucocorticoid treatment and CD-1/OKT-6 antigen positive histiocytes fell to 3%. Macrophage colony stimulating factor, c-fms and c-sis gene expression were reduced almost to normal after treatment. The results suggest that macrophage colony stimulating factor and platelet derived growth factor may have a role in the initiation or maintenance of pathological reactions in pulmonary histiocytosis X.
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