Patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) are often cigarette smokers and are often being treated with corticosteroids at the time of bronchoalveolar lavage. We addressed the question of whether or not the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) neutrophil content of patients with IPF undergoes changes in smokers different from those in nonsmokers after institution of corticosteroids. Eighteen patients were studied (10 smokers and 8 nonsmokers). Fourteen patients (6 smokers and 8 nonsmokers) were treated orally with prednisone. The histologic assessment of alveolar inflammation and inflammatory small airways disease was no different in smokers than in non-smokers. None of the smokers treated with prednisone had pathologic evidence of emphysema in addition to IPF. Five of 6 smokers showed an increase in BALF neutrophils after 3 months of prednisone (p < 0.05), whereas the nonsmokers' BALF neutrophils decreased or remained unchanged. This increase in BALF neutrophils in smokers was not associated with concomitant or subsequent clinical deterioration but, in fact, with clinical improvement after 3 months of therapy. These data indicate that the combination of cigarette smoking and corticosteroid therapy influences the BALF neutrophil content in patients with IPF and suggest that interval changes in BALF neutrophil content may not reflect the status of the inflammatory process or structural derangements in the lungs of some patients with IPF.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine