Pleuroparenchymal Fibroelastosis. A Review of Clinical, Radiological, and Pathological Characteristics

Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2019 Nov;16(11):1351-1359. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201902-181CME.


Pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis (PPFE) is an unusual pulmonary disease with unique clinical, radiological, and pathological characteristics. Designated a rare idiopathic interstitial pneumonia in 2013, its name refers to a combination of fibrosis involving the visceral pleura and fibroelastotic changes predominating in the subpleural lung parenchyma. Although a number of disease associations have been described, no single cause of PPFE has been unequivocally identified. A diagnosis of PPFE is most commonly achieved by identifying characteristic abnormalities on computed tomographic scans. The earliest changes are consistently located in the upper lobes close to the lung apices, the same locations where subsequent disease progression is also most conspicuous. When sufficiently severe, the disease leads to progressive volume loss of the upper lobes, which, in combination with decreased body mass, produces platythorax. Once regarded as a slowly progressing entity, it is now acknowledged that some patients with PPFE follow an inexorably progressive course that culminates in irreversible respiratory failure and early death. In the absence of effective medical drug treatment, lung transplant remains the only therapeutic option for this disorder. This review focuses on improving early disease recognition and evaluating its pathophysiological impact and discusses working approaches for its management.

Keywords: elastosis; interstitial lung disease; intraalveolar fibrosis; pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Fibrosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / physiopathology
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / therapy*
  • Lung Transplantation
  • Pleura / pathology*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / etiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Immunosuppressive Agents