We have investigated the following pulmonary related parameters in 22 patients with Crohn's disease who were free of clinical pulmonary symptoms and had normal chest roentgenograms and in 25 controls: serum angiotensin converting enzyme, pulmonary function tests, bronchoalveolar lavage (lymphocyte count and subpopulations, macrophage viability and superoxide anion release by macrophages) and pulmonary scannings. Serum angiotensin converting enzyme was lower in Crohn's disease (14.1 +/- 5.1) than in controls (25.2 +/- 4.7) (p less than 0.001). Twelve of 22 Crohn's disease (54%) had a bronchoalveolar lavage lymphocytosis (greater than 18% alveolar lymphocytes). Bronchoalveolar lavage lymphocytes subpopulations were quite variable. Twelve of 17 Crohn's disease (71%) had an increase spontaneous and/or stimulated superoxide anion production by alveolar macrophages. Six of 12 Crohn's disease (50%) had an increase physiologic dead space in the upper part of their lung against one of 11 controls (9%). These data suggest that most patients with Crohn's disease have a latent pulmonary involvement.
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