Hypersensitivity pneumonitis

West J Med. 1993 Nov;159(5):570-8.


Although the cause and development of most inflammatory and fibrotic interstitial lung diseases are unknown, both the antigenic stimuli and the immunopathogenic mechanisms that produce the syndrome of hypersensitivity pneumonitis have been well described. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is a group of related inflammatory and fibrotic interstitial lung diseases that result from hypersensitivity immune reactions to the repeated inhalation of antigens derived from fungal, bacterial, animal protein, and reactive chemical sources. Immune complex-induced inflammatory reactions initiate acute lung injury; T cell-mediated hypersensitivity reactions perpetuate it and induce chronic inflammatory, granulomatous, and fibrotic responses in the interstitium of the lungs. Because the natural history of many interstitial lung diseases of unknown causes involves the progressive evolution through these same phases, knowledge about immune pathogenesis gained from studies of hypersensitivity pneumonitis may provide a way to understand the causes and development of other interstitial lung diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Alveolitis, Extrinsic Allergic* / diagnosis
  • Alveolitis, Extrinsic Allergic* / etiology
  • Alveolitis, Extrinsic Allergic* / immunology
  • Antigens / immunology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / immunology


  • Antigens