Usual interstitial pneumonia: a review of the pathogenesis and discussion of elastin fibres, type II pneumocytes and proposed roles in the pathogenesis

  • Edwina E. Duhig
    Address for correspondence: Dr Edwina Duhig, Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology, The John Flynn Hospital, Inland Drive, Tugun, Qld 4224, Australia.
    Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology, The John Flynn Hospital, Tugun, Qld, Australia

    UQ Thoracic Research Centre, The Prince Charles Hospital, Chermside, Qld, Australia

    Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Herston, Qld, Australia
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      The pathogenesis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and its histological counterpart, usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) remains debated. IPF/UIP is a disease characterised by respiratory restriction, and while there have been recent advances in treatment, mortality remains high. Genetic and environmental factors predispose to its development and aberrant alveolar repair is thought to be central. Following alveolar injury, the type II pneumocyte (AEC2) replaces the damaged thin type I pneumocytes. Despite the interstitial fibroblast being considered instrumental in formation of the fibrosis, there has been little consideration for a role for AEC2 in the repair of the septal interstitium. Elastin is a complex protein that conveys flexibility and recoil to the lung. The fibroblast is presumed to produce elastin but there is evidence that the AEC2 may have a role in production or deposition. While the lung is an elastic organ, the role of elastin in repair of lung injury and its possible role in UIP has not been explored in depth. In this paper, pathogenetic mechanisms of UIP involving AEC2 and elastin are reviewed and the possible role of AEC2 in elastin generation is proposed.

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