Smoking-related interstitial lung disease

Radiologia (Engl Ed). 2022 Dec:64 Suppl 3:277-289. doi: 10.1016/j.rxeng.2022.10.008.


Exposure to smoke is associated with the development of diseases of the airways and lung parenchyma. Apart from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), in some individuals, tobacco smoke can also trigger mechanisms of interstitial damage that result in various pathological changes and pulmonary fibrosis. A causal relation has been established between tobacco smoke and a group of entities that includes respiratory bronchiolitis-associated interstitial lung disease (RB-ILD), desquamative interstitial pneumonia (DIP), Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), and acute eosinophilic pneumonia (AEP). Smoking is considered a risk factor for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF); however, the role and impact of smoking in the development of this differentiated clinical entity, which has also been called combined pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema (CPFE) as well as nonspecific interstitial pneumonia (NIP), remains to be determined. The definition of smoking-related interstitial fibrosis (SRIF) is relatively recent, with differentiated histological characteristics. The likely interconnection between the mechanisms involved in inflammation and pulmonary fibrosis in all these processes often results in an overlapping of clinical, radiological, and histological features in the same patient that can sometimes lead to radiological patterns of interstitial lung disease that are impossible to classify. For this reason, a combined approach to diagnosis is recommendable. This combined approach should be based on the joint interpretation of the histological and radiological findings while taking the clinical context into consideration. This paper aims to describe the high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) findings in this group of disease entities in correlation with the clinical manifestations and histological changes underlying the radiological pattern.

Keywords: Diffuse interstitial lung disease; Enfermedad pulmonar intersticial difusa; Fibrosis; High-resolution computed tomography (HRCT); Smoking; Tabaco; Tomografía computarizada de alta resolución.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial* / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial* / etiology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis*
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution