Risk factors for obliterative bronchiolitis in heart-lung transplant recipients

Transplantation. 1991 Apr;51(4):813-7. doi: 10.1097/00007890-199104000-00015.


Obliterative bronchiolitis is the major cause of death of long-term survivors of heart-lung transplantation. Of our first 75 patients who have received heart-lung transplantation, 38 have been followed for a year or longer. Eight patients developed clinical evidence of obliterative bronchiolitis within 15 months of transplantation, of whom four died with postmortem confirmation of extensive obliterative bronchiolitis, interstitial and pleural fibrosis, and vascular sclerosis in the heart and lungs. One further patient died before one year after chronic rejection. All nine patients had evidence on transbronchial biopsy of submucosal fibrosis and vascular sclerosis. Twelve of our remaining patients have shown similar areas of lung fibrosis on transbronchial biopsy, and the other eighteen are well and without fibrosis on transbronchial biopsy. Studies of the 274 biopsies obtained from 38 patients confirmed rejection on 182 occasions with more frequent, more persistent, and more severe rejection in the chronic rejection group than in the without-fibrosis or lung fibrosis groups. Opportunistic infection resulted in pneumonia on 19 occasions, and were most commonly found in lung fibrosis patients. We conclude that obliterative bronchiolitis is the likely outcome in patients with early, poorly controlled, severe rejection.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacterial Infections / etiology
  • Bronchiolitis Obliterans / epidemiology*
  • Bronchiolitis Obliterans / etiology
  • Female
  • Graft Rejection
  • Heart-Lung Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Heart-Lung Transplantation / immunology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mycoses / etiology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Virus Diseases / etiology