Viral infection and aging as cofactors for the development of pulmonary fibrosis

Expert Rev Respir Med. 2010 Dec;4(6):759-71. doi: 10.1586/ers.10.73.


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a disease of unknown origin and progression that primarily affects older adults. Accumulating clinical and experimental evidence suggests that viral infections may play a role, either as agents that predispose the lung to fibrosis or exacerbate existing fibrosis. In particular, herpesviruses have been linked with IPF. This article summarizes the evidence for and against viral cofactors in IPF pathogenesis. In addition, we review mechanistic studies in animal models that highlight the fibrotic potential of viral infection, and explore the different mechanisms that might be responsible. We also review early evidence to suggest that the aged lung may be particularly susceptible to viral-induced fibrosis and make recommendations for future research directions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Cellular Senescence
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gammaherpesvirinae / pathogenicity
  • Herpesviridae Infections / complications
  • Herpesviridae Infections / virology
  • Humans
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / etiology*
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / virology
  • Lung* / pathology
  • Lung* / physiopathology
  • Lung* / virology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Virus Diseases / complications
  • Virus Diseases / virology*