Within the group of Idiopathic Interstitial Pneumonias (IIPs), above all Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) poses a considerable diagnostic and therapeutic problem. Although genetic profiling indicates that IPF, Non Specific Interstitial Pneumonia (NSIP), and chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) are distinctly different diseases, in every day practice these diseases can be difficult to tell apart. Furthermore, treatment of these diseases is notoriously difficult. Serum biomarkers reflect our understanding of the underlying pathogenesis and potentially fulfill a role in establishing a diagnosis, prognosis and therapy. While no single biomarker is currently able to accurately predict the presence or absence of an IIP, a composite of several markers holds promise for the future. Several biomarkers, such as KL-6, surfactant proteins and circulating fibrocytes, appear to contribute to our insight into disease progression and prognosis. It is however uncertain whether these markers give us additional information to common diagnostic tests and their value has as yet to be validated for every day practice. Fortunately, the potential of biomarkers is increasingly recognized and biomarker data are prospectively gathered in current placebo-controlled therapeutic trials.
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