Pulmonary fibrosis 4 months after COVID-19 is associated with severity of illness and blood leucocyte telomere length

Thorax. 2021 Dec;76(12):1242-1245. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2021-217031. Epub 2021 Apr 29.


The risk factors for development of fibrotic-like radiographic abnormalities after severe COVID-19 are incompletely described and the extent to which CT findings correlate with symptoms and physical function after hospitalisation remains unclear. At 4 months after hospitalisation, fibrotic-like patterns were more common in those who underwent mechanical ventilation (72%) than in those who did not (20%). We demonstrate that severity of initial illness, duration of mechanical ventilation, lactate dehydrogenase on admission and leucocyte telomere length are independent risk factors for fibrotic-like radiographic abnormalities. These fibrotic-like changes correlate with lung function, cough and measures of frailty, but not with dyspnoea.

Keywords: COVID-19; imaging/CT MRI etc; interstitial fibrosis; respiratory measurement; viral infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / complications
  • Dyspnea
  • Fibrosis
  • Humans
  • Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis* / genetics
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis* / virology
  • Telomere* / genetics