Chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis in patients diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: a prospective case-cohort study
The clinical features of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis can be indistinguishable; the need to eliminate occult environmental factors known to cause pulmonary fibrosis in patients suspected to have IPF during diagnostic evaluation is evident. We aimed to investigate occult, putative causes in the environments of patients diagnosed with IPF using tests beyond those conventionally used.
In this case-cohort study, 60 consecutive patients diagnosed with IPF on the basis of the 2000 American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the European Respiratory Society (ERS) criteria were prospectively followed up every 4 months for 6 years between Jan 1, 2004, and Dec 31, 2009. At each visit a uniformly applied questionnaire was administered to these 60 patients to identify occult antigen exposure known to cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Patients underwent specific IgG determination, bronchoalveolar lavage, bronchial challenge testing with suspected antigens, and re-review of histopathological features in existing and subsequently obtained surgical lung biopsy samples and from lung explants. Specimens obtained from suspected sources from the patient’s environment were subjected to cultures in microbiology laboratory. These clinical data and discussions among pulmonologists and radiologists familiar with IPF were used to confirm the diagnosis in accordance with 2011 ATS, ERS, Japanese Respiratory Society, and Latin American Thoracic Association guidelines; 46 of the 60 patients had IPF according to the 2011 guidelines, and our analyses in this study were focused on these 46 patients.
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