Immunohistological analysis of bronchial biopsy specimens from nine patients with bronchiectasis and four control subjects was performed with a panel of monoclonal antibodies selected to show lymphocyte and macrophage subsets and signs of cellular activation. The cells taking part in the inflammatory response in the bronchial wall of patients with bronchiectasis were almost exclusively mononuclear cells, most of them T lymphocytes. B lymphocytes were observed in biopsy specimens from only two out of nine patients. CD8+ T cells outnumbered CD4+ cells in all patients in a ratio ranging from 2:1 to 10:1. Most T lymphocytes also strongly expressed CD7 antigen and a proportion of them expressed HLA-DR. Most of the lymphocytic infiltration occurred just beneath the basement membrane of the epithelium, though intraepithelial and submucosal infiltration was also seen. Non-lymphoid mononuclear cells expressing the phenotype of dendritic cells and macrophages were found dispersed throughout the infiltrate, most of them expressing HLA-DR. These observations support the hypothesis that cell mediated immunological reactions contribute to the inflammation associated with bronchiectasis.
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