We sought to explore immunological factors in patients who died with rapidly fatal fibrosing lung diseases (Hamman-Rich syndrome). A retrospective review of cases of interstitial lung disease showed 12 recent deaths from Hamman-Rich syndrome. The mean age was 62, men outnumbering women 3 : 1. Five patients had proved collagen vascular disease (rheumatoid arthritis three, lupus two). Four others had a history of allergic disorders, syphilis, chronic eosinophilia, or hypersensitivity reactions. One patient showed disappearance of immunofluorescence as fibrosis advanced, which has not previously been reported. The study suggests a possible aetiological link between disorders of immunity and Hamman-Rich syndrome. The evidence also supports the notion that Hamman-Rich syndrome is an accelerated variant of the more indolent interstitial pneumonias.
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