Changes in epithelial lining fluid albumin associated with smoking and interstitial lung disease

C. M. Roberts, D. Cairns, D. H. Bryant, W. M J Burke, M. Yeates, H. Blake, R. Penny, L. Shelley, J. J. Zaunders, S. N. Breit*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    30 Citations (Scopus)


    Albumin is an important plasma protein which is useful in the nt of in vivo membrane permeability in the lung. In subjects with interstitial lung disease (ILD) the relationship between albumin recovered from bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and other markers of inflammatory activity may provide useful information of the pathogenesis of the disease process. Unfortunately, its measurement is hampered by the variable dilution in BAL fluid. In this study, urea was used as a marker of epithelial lining fluid (ELF) dilution allowing the calculation of an apparent epithelial lining fluid volume and adjusted albumin content. We examined the relationship between ELF albumin content and BAL cell counts, immunoglobulin content, respiratory function tests and gallium lung scans in both smokers and nonsmokers with and without interstitial lung disease. Forty seven subjects with connective tissue disease and interstitial lung disease and 51 subjects with either connective tissue disease but no pulmonary involvement or non pulmonary malignancy (18 current smokers) underwent BAL, gallium lung scans and respiratory function tests. The subjects with ILD were further subdivided into those with active ILD or bronchiolitis using cluster analysis. In smokers without ILD an increased ELF volume and a decrease in ELF albumin were found. Increased ELF albumin was related to increased age. In subjects with ILD, increased albumin was strongly correlated with increased BAL lymphocyte absolute and differential counts, which overwhelmed any age or smoking effect. These findings suggest a possible causal relationship between lung vascular permeability and lymphocyte numbers in subjects with interstitial lung disease and reinforce the need to consider smoking and age as confounding factors in BAL analysis.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)110-115
    Number of pages6
    JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1993


    • bronchoalveolar lavage
    • epithelial lining fluid albumin
    • interstitial lung disease
    • smoking


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