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Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive lung disease that carries a poor prognosis and for which there are no effective therapies. Although the excessive deposition of extracellular matrix, combined with evidence of recurrent injury to the alveolar epithelium, are well-described there is a pressing need to understand these processes better at a molecular level and thus to identify potential therapeutic targets in this intractable disease. This review considers some recent advances published in Thorax and elsewhere that have improved our understanding of the pathophysiology of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, using data both from human cells and tissue and from animal models of pulmonary fibrosis. The studies particularly address the fate of the alveolar epithelial cell and mechanisms of fibrogenesis, and identify mechanistic pathways shared with co-existing conditions such as lung cancer and pulmonary hypertension. The concepts of physiological biomarkers of disease progression and prognosis are also discussed.

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