Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Related to Endothelial Injury and Antiendothelial Cell Antibodies
Mechanisms underlying idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis are not well understood. This paper presents data supporting the hypothesis that microvascular endothelial cell injury and antiendothelial cell antibodies play roles in human idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Serologic and pathologic features of 40 patients diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis were evaluated. All patients had open lung biopsies indicating either usual or nonspecific interstitial pneumonitis. All biopsies had morphologic evidence of microvascular injury to the endothelium, and direct immunofluorescence testing revealed variable deposition of IgG, IgM, or IgA within septal microvasculature suggestive of humorally mediated microvascular injury. Ultrastructural studies revealed changes of endothelial cell injury and necrosis and evidence of repetitive episodes of microvascular injury characterized by basement membrane zone collagen deposition and lamellation. Serum samples demonstrated reactivity to multiple endothelial cell antigenic epitopes, and indirect immunofluorescent testing demonstrated a prominent pattern of fluorescence in pulmonary endothelial cell preparations. Serum samples were positive in 37/40 patients for antiphospholipid antibodies with one fourth having positive lupus anticoagulant tests accompanied by thrombotic episodes. In patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Factor VIII levels and C-reactive protein levels were also elevated, supporting the presence of endothelial cell injury and inflammation. These data underscore a potential role for immune-based microvascular injury in the evolution of usual or nonspecific interstitial pneumonitis and indicate that those patients have evidence of microvascular injury and endothelial cell necrosis. The high prevalence of antiphospholipid antibodies in these patients may lead to an inherent thrombophilic tendency.