Correlation of structure and function in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Reuben M. Cherniack, Thomas V. Colby, Andrew Flint, William M. Thurlbeck, James A. Waldron, Lynn Ackerson, Marvin I. Schwarz, Talmadge E. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


The early stage of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is thought to involve a smaller number of alveoli and to be characterized predominantly by cellularity and minimal fibrosis, whereas advanced disease involves a large number of alveoli and is characterized predominantly by fibrosis with minimal cellularity. In addition, correlative studies have indicated that prognosis and response to therapy is determined in part by the extent of fibrosis and cellularity. This study was undertaken to determine whether pulmonary function assessment would help distinguish between the cellular and fibrotic phases of this disorder, as determined by a semiquantitative pathology scoring system that comprised four factor scores: fibrosis, cellularity, granulation/connective tissue, and desquamation. Ninety-six untreated patients with biopsy-confirmed IPF (27 never smokers, 32 current smokers, and 37 ex-smokers) were evaluated. In the group as a whole, there was no significant relationship between the fibrosis or the connective/granulation tissue factor scores and any of the physiologic parameters. The DL(CO) correlated with the 'desquamation' and the total pathology scores, whereas the TLC and FVC correlated with the cellularity factor score. In the current smokers, the coefficient of elastic retraction, DL(CO)/VA, and FEV1/FVC ratio were significantly lower than in never smokers and ex-smokers, and TLC end FVC were higher than in never smokers. Also, the mean cellularity and granulation/connective tissue factor scores were significantly lower, and the desquamation factor score was significantly higher than those in never smokers and ex-smokers. Both age and smoking status were significant for the cellularity factor score, whereas for the connective/granulation tissue factor score, age was not significant but smoking status was. For the desquamation factor score, age was significant but smoking status was not. There were significant differences between never smokers and ever smokers in the relationship between the pathology factors and measurements of respiratory function, and this may explain some of the difficulty in assessing structure-function correlation in patients with IPF. In the never smokers, the correlations between structure and function were likely the direct result of IPF per se. In the current smokers, bronchiolar and/or emphysematous changes associated with cigarette smoking may have complicated the pathologic alterations caused by IPF, as well as influencing the functional derangements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1180-1188
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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