Biology ETDs

Publication Date




Inhaled toxic materials can interact with lymphoid tissues of the respiratory tract resulting in altered immune responses. To test the effect of immunosuppression on lung immunity, corticosteroids were administered to Beagle dogs systemically or directly into the lung. Specific lung airways were lavaged at 5, 7, 10, and 12 days after intra­pulmonary immunization with sheep red blood cell (SRBC) antigen. The cytology of the bronchoalveolar cells in lung lavages was evaluated, and lymphoid cells isolated from lung airways and from blood were tested by the Cunningham assay for in vitro production of antigen-specific IgM and IgG antibodies. In addition, the anti-SRBC antibody titers in lavage fluid supernates and in blood sera were quantitated.

There was a reduction in the total numbers of bronchoalveolar cells recovered from immunized lung lobes, as well as a significant suppression of antibody-mediated responses following systemic corticosteroid therapy. In contrast, corticosteroids instilled at sites of antigen deposition did not significantly alter the development of immunity in immunized airways. These results indicate that systemic corticosteroid treatment compromises local lung immunity to SRBC by suppressing immune functions in the hilar lymph nodes that receive lymphatic drainage from the lung. The steroids instilled in lung airways did not appear to alter antigen-handling or recruitment of antigen-specific lymphoid cells to immunized lung airways. This research supports the premise that immunologic defense to antigenic particles in lung is initiated primarily by lymphoid cells in the lung-associated hilar lymph nodes.



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Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Roger McClellan

Second Committee Member

Marvin Riedesel

Third Committee Member

Gordon Johnson

Fourth Committee Member

David Bice