Acute eosinophilic pneumonia: histopathologic findings in nine patients

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1997 Jan;155(1):296-302. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.155.1.9001328.


Acute eosinophilic pneumonia is characterized by acute respiratory insufficiency, hypoxemia, fever, diffuse radiographic infiltrates, and eosinophilia in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) or lung biopsies in the absence of infection, atopy, or asthma. A rapid response to corticosteroids is characteristic. We reviewed our experience with nine cases of acute lung disease with histologic features of acute and organizing diffuse alveolar damage and prominent interstitial and alveolar eosinophils in order to determine whether this pathology was characteristic of acute eosinophilic pneumonia. The mean age of the patients (four men and five women) was 53 yr (range: 33 to 71 yr). They presented with 2 to 21 d of dyspnea, cough, myalgias, and fever. All were hypoxic and had bilateral infiltrates on chest radiographs. Peripheral blood eosinophilia was present in four of eight patients (peripheral blood count unavailable for one patient). All patients were treated with high-dose corticosteroids with a mean time to symptomatic and radiographic improvement of 4 d. Seven of the nine patients enrolled in the study are alive without relapse; one patient has a mild deficit in diffusing capacity, and one patient died of a myocardial infarct while improving on therapy. The presence of eosinophils in cases of acute respiratory insufficiency due to diffuse alveolar damage (DAD) should suggest the diagnostic possibility of acute eosinophilic pneumonia. Acute eosinophilic pneumonia should be distinguished from other causes of DAD because of important differences in natural history.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Eosinophilia / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Eosinophilia / pathology*
  • Pulmonary Eosinophilia / therapy