• Patients (n = 10) at the acute phase of farmer's lung were investigated with chest roentgenography, lung function tests, and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid analysis (n = 9). They had diffuse interstitial lung infiltrates and a reduction of the diffusion capacity. The dominating recovered cell types during BAL were lymphocytes; and in two patients, granulocytes. A prominent increase in mast cell numbers was seen in all patients. After avoidance of contact with moldy plant material for four to ten weeks (n = 7), lung function started to improve; and the BAL cell counts, to decrease. At clinical remission six to 14 months later (n = 7), the chest roentgenogram was normal and the diffusion capacity was slightly subnormal. The BAL numbers of mast cells and lymphocytes had further decreased but still remained increased compared with those in the healthy controls. Parallel to the normalization of the lung function and the recovery of BAL fluid cells, the increased BAL fluid concentrations of hyaluronic acid and procollagen III peptide started to decrease. These potential markers of fibroblast activation were significantly related to the mast cell number, but not to the lymphocyte number. The study has demonstrated that pulmonary mastocytosis is a prominent finding in farmer's lung and is related to the disease activity. The observed relationship between pulmonary mastocytosis and biochemical signs of lung fibroblast activation is further evidence to support the hypothesis of a mast cell interaction with lung connective tissue.
(Arch Intern Med 1988;148:1362-1365)