Journal of Molecular Medicine

, Volume 83, Issue 5, pp 397–405

Function associated transforming growth factor-β gene polymorphism in chronic beryllium disease


    • Medical University Hospital FreiburgDepartment of Pneumology
    • Research Center Borstel
  • Massimo Amicosante
    • Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of Rome Tor Vergata
  • Manfred Schürmann
    • Institute of Human GeneticsUniversity Lübeck
  • Elisabeth Fireman
    • Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical CenterDepartment of Pulmonary and Allergic Diseases
  • Cesare Saltini
    • Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of Rome Tor Vergata
  • Joachim Müller-Quernheim
    • Medical University Hospital FreiburgDepartment of Pneumology
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00109-004-0626-0

Cite this article as:
Gaede, K.I., Amicosante, M., Schürmann, M. et al. J Mol Med (2005) 83: 397. doi:10.1007/s00109-004-0626-0


Chronic beryllium disease (CBD) is a rare occupational, granulomatous lung disease clinically resembling sarcoidosis. The immune response to beryllium is thought to depend on genetic susceptibility. Although a glutamic acid in position 69 of the human leukocyte antigen-DP β chain (HLA-DPB1-Glu69) is associated with the development of CBD, it cannot fully explain susceptibility. It is likely that additionally other genes are involved in regulating the immune and inflammatory response in the pathogenesis of this disease. Functional gene polymorphisms (PMs) of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)A and transforming growth factor (TGF) β1 genes are suspected to modify the course of granulomatous disorders. We analyzed the TGF-β1 (codon 25) PM in 59 patients with CBD and 164 matched healthy controls, from two groups of European/Israeli and United States origin. Additionally, patients were genotyped for HLA class II gene variants and the TNFA (−308) PM. The most significant results were found for the TGF-β1 (codon 25) PM with a shift towards the low producing non-GG genotypes in the subgroup of European and Israeli patients with CBD (62.50% vs. 13.82% in healthy controls; P<0.001). This phenomenon was not observed in the group from the United States. Moreover, TGF-β1 (codon 25) PM genotype frequencies from United States CBD patients differed significantly from those of European and Israeli patients. In contrast, increased frequencies for the high producing TNFA2 allele were found only in the patients from the United States (28.20% vs. 8.96% in healthy controls; P<0.005) but not in the group of Europe and Israel. In conclusion, the increase in TGF-β1 (codon 25) PM genotype frequency associated with a low TGF-β release suggests that immunoregulatory cytokines such as TGF-β are involved in the pathogenesis of CBD. Moreover, based on the interaction of gene PMs associated with the control of the immune response, such as TNF-α and TGF-β1, with a specific immune response gene such as HLA-DPB1-Glu69 or other HLA-class II PMs driving the immune response to Be, the present data suggest that a combination of different genetic backgrounds determine susceptibility for the same immunopathological reaction and disease.


Chronic beryllium diseaseTGF-β gene polymorphismTNFA-HLA



Bronchoalveolar lavage


Beryllium hypersensitivity


Chronic beryllium disease


Transforming growth factor


Tumor necrosis factor

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005