BACKGROUND: Previous studies have provided evidence for an inflammatory process in the large airways of subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), consisting predominantly of activated T cells. No data are available on the TH1 /TH2 T-cell cytokine pattern in this disease. OBJECTIVE: We sought to characterize the TH1 /TH2 T-cell cytokine pattern in subjects with COPD. METHODS: We examined the IFN-gamma and IL-4 expression in peripheral blood CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from 20 patients with COPD and 25 control subjects by using a flow cytometric method of intracellular cytokine detection. We also examined the expression of 2 surface activation markers (CD25 and HLA-DR) on peripheral blood CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. RESULTS: There was an increased percentage of IFN-gamma-producing cells (30.3\% [range, 12.9\% to 60.4\%] vs 19.1\% [range, 4\% to 31.2\%], P =.003) and a decreased percentage of IL-4-producing cells (4.55\% [range, 0.6\% to 11.3\%] vs 9.5\% [2.1\% to 21.3\%], P =.0008) among peripheral blood CD4+ T cells from the patients with COPD compared with control subjects. There was no significant difference between the 2 groups in the percentage of peripheral blood CD8+ T cells producing IFN-gamma or IL-4 or in the percentage of peripheral blood CD4+ and CD8+ T cells expressing CD25 and HLA-DR. CONCLUSION: These findings provide evidence for a TH1 -like immune response of peripheral blood CD4+ T cells in subjects with COPD.
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