Pulmonary fibrosis and lung carcinoma: a comparative study of metaplastic epithelia in honeycombed areas of usual interstitial pneumonia with or without lung carcinoma

Pathol Int. 1999 Dec;49(12):1060-6. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1827.1999.00989.x.


Usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP), or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, has been considered to be associated with a high risk for lung carcinoma. To investigate this well-known but still equivocal relationship, we reviewed the clinical features of UIP autopsy cases with or without lung carcinoma (n = 32 and 38, respectively), and compared the morphology and cell kinetics of metaplastic epithelia in the honeycombed areas (n = 11, each group). Thirty-two of 70 UIP autopsy cases showed lung carcinomas. Clinically, UIP with lung carcinoma showed a male predominance (P = 0.001), a higher rate of smoking history (P = 0.001) and a later onset of UIP (P = 0.02), compared with UIP without lung carcinoma. Most of the carcinomas were peripheral in origin (90%), and 65% were topographically associated with honeycombed areas or the border between honeycombing and non-fibrotic areas. Quantitative assessment of the metaplastic epithelia in the honeycombed areas revealed that squamous metaplasia, but not cuboidal cell metaplasia or bronchial cell metaplasia, occurred more frequently in UIP with lung carcinoma than in UIP without lung carcinoma (P = 0.02). There were no significant differences between the two groups with regard to the labeling indexes of Ki-67 and p53 in the metaplastic epithelia, including squamous metaplasia. The degree of atypical squamous metaplasia was not different between the two groups. The quantitative predominance of squamous metaplasia in the honeycombed areas may not be a precursor for lung carcinoma, but might reflect a constitutional susceptibility of UIP patients to develop a lung carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / complications
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Aged
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / complications
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / complications
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / complications
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Ki-67 Antigen / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / complications
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Metaplasia / metabolism
  • Metaplasia / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Precancerous Conditions / metabolism
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / complications
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / metabolism
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology*
  • Sex Distribution


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Neoplasm Proteins