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February 2008 Issue

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Lung Disease Cells May Indicate Higher Death Risk

By Katie Pence
Published February 2008

Large numbers of certain cells in the lungs of patients diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) may increase their chance of death, UC researchers say.

According to a new study, increased numbers of neutrophil cells—a type of white blood cell—in patients’ lungs were associated with a 30 percent increased risk of mortality in the first year following di-agnosis of  IPF, an interstitial lung disease which results in thick lung scarring.

As the disease progresses, lung tissue loses its ability to carry oxygen into the bloodstream.

Researchers, led by Brent Kinder, MD, assistant professor of medicine, discovered the link between neutrophils and IPF
outcome using bronchoalveolar lavage.

The technique involves passing a bronchoscope through the mouth of the patient and into the lungs. Saline is squirted into a small part of the affected lung and then collected for examination.

“With this information, we can now work to identify neutrophil cells in patients’ lungs and provide detailed information for more accurate diagnosis,” says Kinder.

“It is our hope that this accurate prognostic information will become even more useful as effective treatments become available.”

The UC study was published in the January 2008 issue of the journal Chest.

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