Ganciclovir antiviral therapy in advanced idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: an open pilot study

Pulm Med. 2011:2011:240805. doi: 10.1155/2011/240805. Epub 2011 Apr 7.


Hypothesis. Repeated epithelial cell injury secondary to viruses such as Epstein Barr and subsequent dysfunctional repair may be central to the pathogenesis of IPF. In this observational study, we evaluated whether a combination of standard and anti-viral therapy might have an impact on disease progression. Methods. Advanced IPF patients who failed standard therapy and had serological evidence of previous EBV, received ganciclovir (iv) at 5 mg/kg twice daily. Forced vital capacity (FVC), shuttle walk test, DTPA scan and prednisolone dose were measured before and 8 weeks post-treatment. Results. Fourteen patients were included. After ganciclovir, eight patients showed improvement in FVC and six deteriorated. The median reduction of prednisolone dose was 7.5 mg (44%). Nine patients were classified "responders" of whom four showed an improvement in all four criteria, while three of the five "non-responders" showed no response in any of the criteria. Responders showed reduction in prednisolone dosage (P = .02) and improved DTPA clearance (P = .001). Conclusion. This audit outcome suggests that 2-week course of ganciclovir (iv) may attenuate disease progression in a subgroup of advanced IPF patients. These observations do not suggest that anti-viral treatment is a substitute for the standard care, however, suggests the need to explore the efficacy of ganciclovir as adjunctive therapy in IPF.