Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: new insights in its pathogenesis

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2002 Dec;34(12):1534-8. doi: 10.1016/s1357-2725(02)00091-2.


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a unique type of chronic fibrosing lung disease of unknown etiology. The sequence of the pathogenic mechanisms is unknown, but the disease is characterized by epithelial injury and activation, the formation of distinctive subepithelial fibroblast/myofibroblast foci, and excessive extracellular matrix accumulation. These pathological processes usually lead to progressive and irreversible changes in the lung architecture resulting in progressive respiratory insufficiency and an almost universally terminal outcome in a relatively short period of time. While research has largely focused on inflammatory mechanisms for initiating the fibrotic response, recent evidence strongly suggests that disruption of the alveolar epithelium is an underlying pathogenic event. Although treatment to date has proved largely ineffective, this new approach has opened up several promising therapeutic avenues.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Collagenases / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / drug therapy
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / enzymology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology*


  • Collagenases