In this article, we review the evidence for peripheral blood biomarkers in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a life-threatening fibrotic lung disease of unknown etiology. We focus on selected biomarkers present in peripheral blood, as they are easy to obtain, can be measured longitudinally, and have the greatest likelihood of achieving clinical utility. This article concentrates on biomarkers with mechanistic plausibility that may be directly involved in the development of IPF, including KL-6, surfactant proteins A and D, matrix metalloproteases (MMP) 1 and 7, CCL18, VEGF, YKL-40, osteopontin, circulating fibrocytes, and T cells. After reviewing the evidence base for each, we designate the biomarkers that may have utility as: (1) diagnostic biomarkers to distinguish IPF from other interstitial lung diseases, (2) prognostic biomarkers that are correlated with disease progression or mortality, or (3) biomarkers that can be used as tools for serial monitoring of disease severity. Although there are no validated biomarkers that are currently available, the need for surrogates of diagnosis, prognosis, and monitoring of disease course with emerging therapies is great.
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