The relationship between individual histologic features and disease progression in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Andrew G. Nicholson, Laura G. Fulford, Thomas V. Colby, Roland M. Du Bois, David M. Hansell, Athol U. Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

225 Scopus citations


We have retrospectively studied 53 patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and a histologic diagnosis of usual interstitial pneumonia and evaluated the prognostic significance of four individual histologic features (fibroblastic foci [FF], interstitial mononuclear cell infiltrate, established fibrosis, and intra-alveolar macrophages) using a semiquantitative scale of 0-6. An objective count of FF was also undertaken. Using weighted kappa coefficients, interobserver agreement between pathologists was moderate to good (0.56-0.76). Subjective and objective FF scores were strongly associated (Rs = 0.88, < 0.00005). Mortality was independently linked to a high FF score, p = 0.006, and a low percent predicted carbon monoxide diffusing capacity (DLCO), p = 0.01. For pulmonary function, on univariate analysis, the strongest correlations were observed between increasing interstitial mononuclear cell infiltrate or FF scores and greater declines in forced vital capacity (FVC) or DLCO at 6 months. Multivariate models revealed that increasing FF scores were independently associated with greater declines in FVC and DLCO at both 6 and 12 months. Increasing interstitial mononuclear cell infiltrate scores were also independently linked to functional decline, but only at 6 months. These data suggest a reproducible method on biopsy for predicting rate of disease progression in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-177
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2002


  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Usual interstitial pneumonia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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