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Original research
Prognostic significance of radiological pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis in Mycobacterium avium complex lung disease: a multicentre retrospective cohort study


Background Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) causes chronic respiratory infectious diseases with diverse clinical features and prognoses. Pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis (PPFE) is a rare disease characterised by pleural fibrosis with subjacent intra-alveolar fibrosis and alveolar septal elastosis, with unique chest high-resolution CT (HRCT) features (radiological PPFE). An association between recurrent respiratory infections and PPFE formation has been hypothesised; however, the clinical significance of PPFE in MAC lung disease remains unclear.

Methods This retrospective, multicentre study investigated the prevalence of radiological PPFE in patients with MAC lung disease and its association with clinical features and outcomes. Radiological PPFE was diagnosed on the basis of HRCT findings. Prognostic factors were identified using Cox proportional hazards and Fine-Gray models.

Results Of 850 consecutive patients with definite MAC lung disease, 101 (11.9%) exhibited radiological PPFE. Patients with radiological PPFE had unique characteristics, such as lower body mass index, lower survival rate (5-year cumulative survival rate, 63.1% vs 91.7%; p<0.001) and a higher incidence of respiratory-related death (5-year cumulative incidence, 31.1% vs 3.6%; p<0.001), than those without radiological PPFE. In the multivariable analysis, the presence of radiological PPFE was independently associated with all-cause mortality (adjusted HR, 4.78; 95% CI, 2.87 to 7.95; p<0.001) and respiratory-related death (adjusted HR, 3.88; 95% CI, 2.14 to 7.01; p<0.001).

Interpretation This large-scale study demonstrated that in patients with MAC lung disease, radiological PPFE was common, a phenotype associated with unique clinical features and poor prognosis, particularly respiratory-related death. The specific management of this subgroup should be established.

  • Interstitial Fibrosis
  • Rare lung diseases
  • Respiratory Infection

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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