Circulating KL-6 Predicts the Outcome of Rapidly Progressive Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

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Searching for early predictive markers of the therapeutic effects of high-dose corticosteroids (“pulse therapy”) on patients with rapidly progressing idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), we evaluated 14 such patients, who had received weekly pulse therapy for at least 3 wk. Eight patients responded to the treatment and survived. However, six patients failed to respond, and all of them died within 3 mo after treatment. Serum levels of KL-6 (MUC1 mucin), neutrophil elastase (NE), and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) were measured before, and at 1 wk and 3 wk after treatment. Levels of KL-6 decreased significantly in patients who lived, whereas KL-6 levels tended to increase in patients who died. The values of NE did not change significantly. LDH levels decreased significantly at 1 wk, and tended to decrease at 3 wk in patients who lived. However, in patients who died, they did not significantly change. At the first cycle of treatment when clinical effects may not be evident, the decrease in KL-6 but not LDH levels was significantly related to a favorable outcome, whereas their increase was related to a poor outcome. Results suggest that monitoring with KL-6 may contribute to early clinical decisions for alternative therapy in the management of rapidly progressing IPF.

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