The present study was undertaken in order to determine whether animals exhibiting cutaneous hypersensitiveness to pneumococcus would show an acute inflammatory reaction in the lungs when pneumococcus autolysate was brought into contact with the pulmonary tissues and, if so, whether the pulmonary reaction might be shown to be due to the allergic state of the animal, rather than to intrinsic properties of the autolysate. Twenty young rabbits were sensitized to pneumococcus by various procedures and their degree of hypersensitiveness determined at frequent intervals over varying periods of time by means of intracutaneous injections of pneumococcus autolysate standardized on the basis of nitrogen content and so treated as to be devoid of the known toxic principles. Twenty-four hours after the last skin test each rabbit was injected intratracheally with the same pneumococcus autolysate. Seven non-sensitive controls were similarly injected intratracheally. Twenty-four hours after intratracheal injection the rabbits were killed. The lungs were removed, a portion was cultured, and the rest was examined histologically. Of the twenty sensitized rabbits, three that showed no cutaneous sensitivity and three that were only slightly skin-sensitive at the time of intratracheal injection exhibited no detectable pulmonary reaction to the autolysate; eleven of fourteen that showed moderate to extreme cutaneous hypersensitiveness were found to have an acute exudative inflammation of the lungs. The exudate consisted largely of polymorphonuclear leukocytes and serum. It varied in extent from a slight focal exudate lining the bronchioles and adjacent alveoli to a very marked diffuse involvement of considerable portions of the lung. In all but one of the eleven the cultures of the lungs were sterile. The single animal showing a positive culture (B. lepisepticum) has been excluded. None of the seven non-sensitive controls showed any pulmonary reaction to the autolysate.
From these results it may be concluded that there is in rabbits a fairly close parallelism between cutaneous and pulmonary hypersensitiveness to pneumococcus autolysate and that the inflammatory response of the pulmonary tissue resulting from contact with the autolysate depends upon the allergic state of the animal rather than upon inherently injurious substances in the autolysate. The observations are in harmony with the theory that allergy may play a part in the pathogenesis of pneumococcus pneumonia in man.