Chronic beryllium disease (CBD) provides a human disorder in which to study the delayed type IV hypersensitivity response to persistent Ag that leads to noncaseating pulmonary granuloma formation. We hypothesized that, in CBD, failure of IL-10 to modulate the beryllium-specific, cell-mediated immune response would result in persistent, maximal cytokine production and T lymphocyte proliferation, thus contributing to the development of granulomatous lung disease. To test this hypothesis, we used bronchoalveolar lavage cells from control and CBD subjects to evaluate the beryllium salt-specific production of endogenous IL-10 and the effects of exogenous human rIL-10 (rhIL-10) on HLA expression, on the production of IL-2, IFN-gamma, and TNF-alpha, and on T lymphocyte proliferation. Our data demonstrate that beryllium-stimulated bronchoalveolar lavage cells produce IL-10, and the neutralization of endogenous IL-10 does not increase significantly cytokine production, HLA expression, or T lymphocyte proliferation. Second, the addition of excess exogenous rhIL-10 partially inhibited the beryllium-stimulated production of IL-2, IFN-gamma, and TNF-alpha; however, we measured no change in T lymphocyte proliferation or in the percentage of alveolar macrophages expressing HLA-DP. Interestingly, beryllium salts interfered with an IL-10-stimulated decrease in the percentage of alveolar macrophages expressing HLA-DR. We conclude that, in the CBD-derived, beryllium-stimulated cell-mediated immune response, low levels of endogenous IL-10 have no appreciable effect; exogenous rhIL-10 has a limited effect on cytokine production and no effect on T lymphocyte proliferation or HLA expression.
Dr. Sally S. Tinkle, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505