Background: Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) has been associated with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), although the mechanism remains unclear. Gastroesophageal reflux/microaspiration may lead to lung fibrosis, while increased pulmonary workload may also worsen GER. Comparing the GER profile of IPF patients to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients with similar lung function may help delineate the role of GER in IPF pathogenesis.
Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study of IPF and COPD patients undergoing pre-lung transplant multichannel intraluminal impedance and pH study (MII-pH) off acid suppression at a tertiary center in 2008-2014. Patients with prior fundoplication were excluded. Baseline demographics, pulmonary function test, and MII-pH results were recorded. Univariate analyses were performed using Fisher's exact (binary variables) and Student's t (continuous variables) tests. Logistic regression was performed to adjust for potential confounders.
Key results: A total of 90 subjects (54 IPF, 36 COPD) met inclusion criteria. Compared to COPD, IPF patients had increased total reflux episodes (65.9 vs 46.1, p = 0.02), proximal reflux episodes (30.3 vs 20.3, p = 0.04), and prevalence of abnormal total reflux episodes (38.9% vs 16.7%, p = 0.02). On multivariate analyses, abnormal total reflux episodes (OR: 4.9, p = 0.05) and bolus reflux exposure time (OR: 4, p = 0.04) remained significantly associated with IPF.
Conclusions & inferences: Abnormal reflux was significantly more prevalent among IPF patients after controlling for lung disease severity. Gastroesophageal reflux/microaspiration likely plays a role in fibrosis in IPF. A significant portion of IPF patients had increased non-acid reflux. Therapies aiming to prevent reflux of gastric contents may be more beneficial than antisecretory medications alone in these patients.
Keywords: gastroesophageal reflux; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; lung transplant; multichannel intraluminal pH-impedance study; pH/impedance study.
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.