Combined corticosteroid and cyclophosphamide therapy does not alter survival in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Chest. 2004 Jun;125(6):2169-74. doi: 10.1378/chest.125.6.2169.


Study objectives: Treatment of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) conventionally includes corticosteroids and cytotoxic agents. No study to date has adequately evaluated the benefits of this approach. This study retrospectively compared combination corticosteroid and cyclophosphamide therapy in a large population of patients who meet the current consensus definition of IPF.

Design: Patients were identified retrospectively and treatment addressed on an intention-to-treat basis. Treated and untreated patients were matched by age and percentage of predicted FVC (FVC%) at the time of the initial visit.

Setting: Two academic tertiary referral centers.

Patients or participants: The diagnosis of IPF was based on current consensus criteria. A total of 164 patients (82 treated and 82 untreated) were included.

Interventions: Treatment consisted of combined corticosteroid and cyclophosphamide therapy using a standardized protocol.

Measurements and results: There was no difference in age, FVC%, gender, or smoking status between groups. No survival difference was found between patients who were treated (median survival, 1,431 days) or untreated (median survival, 1,665 days) [p = 0.58]. The lack of treatment effect persisted when only those patients with a diagnosis by surgical biopsy (n = 24) or FVC% >/= 60 (n = 107) were analyzed.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that combined corticosteroid and cyclophosphamide therapy has no impact on survival in patients with IPF. This finding supports the evolving concept that chronic inflammation plays a minimal role in the progression of IPF and reinforces the importance of careful consideration of the risks and benefits of such therapies prior to their institution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage*
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cause of Death*
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / mortality*
  • Reference Values
  • Regression Analysis
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Cyclophosphamide