Ten patients with progressive, symptomatic interstitial lung disease of unknown aetiology who were treated with cyclosporin A were reviewed. Five had clinical and histopathological features of cryptogenic fibrosing alveolitis and five a progressive restrictive lung disease characterised by interstitial infiltration with lymphocytes and minimal fibrosis, which could not be classified precisely. Three patients with lymphocytic infiltration showed a response to initial treatment with cyclosporin A alone at high dosage, but toxicity precluded further treatment. All 10 patients then received low doses of cyclosporin A and prednisone. Three of the patients with cryptogenic fibrosing alveolitis and all five patients with lymphocytic infiltration responded with a reduction in dyspnoea or an increase in vital capacity, or both; cyclosporin A appeared to be effective, or at least to have a corticosteroid potentiating effect. A high incidence of side effects occurred, though these do not necessarily prohibit the long term use of cyclosporin A when it is indicated clinically. Cyclosporin A may be effective in the treatment of interstitial lung disease of unknown aetiology. Further studies are required to determine the long term outcome of treatment.
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