Immune mechanisms in the pathogenesis of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome after lung transplantation

Andrës Jaramillo, Fëlix G. Fernandez, Elbert Y. Kuo, Elbert P. Trulock, G. A. Patterson, T. Mohanakumar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Lung transplantation is recognized as the only viable treatment option in a variety of end-stage pulmonary diseases. However, the long-term survival after lung transplantation is limited by the development of obliterative bronchiolitis, and its clinical correlate bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), which is considered to represent chronic lung allograft rejection. Histopathologically, BOS is an inflammatory process that leads to fibrous scarring of the terminal and respiratory bronchioles and subsequent total occlusion of the airways. The specific etiology and pathogenesis of BOS are not well understood. The current premise is that BOS represents a common lesion in which different inflammatory insults such as ischemia-reperfusion, rejection, and infection can lead to a similar histological and clinical outcome. However, the low incidence of BOS in non-transplanted individuals and the observation that early development of BOS is predicted by the frequency and severity of acute rejection episodes indicate that alloimmune-dependent mechanisms play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of BOS. The evidence presented in this review indicates that BOS is the result of humoral and cellular immune responses developed against major histocompatibility complex molecules expressed by airway epithelial cells of the lung allograft. This process is aggravated by alloimmune-independent mechanisms such as ischemia-reperfusion and infection. Currently, treatment of BOS is frequently unsuccessful. Therefore, a better understanding of the immunopathogenesis of BOS is of paramount importance toward improving long-term patient and graft survival after lung transplantation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-93
Number of pages10
JournalPediatric transplantation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Airway epithelial cells
  • Antibodies
  • Chronic rejection
  • Growth factors
  • Lung transplantation
  • T lymphocytes


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