The Role of Infection in Interstitial Lung Diseases: A Review

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Interstitial lung disease (ILD) comprises an array of heterogeneous parenchymal lung diseases that are associated with a spectrum of pathologic, radiologic, and clinical manifestations. There are ILDs with known causes and those that are idiopathic, making treatment strategies challenging. Prognosis can vary according to the type of ILD, but many exhibit gradual progression with an unpredictable clinical course in individual patients, as seen in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and the phenomenon of “acute exacerbation”(AE). Given the often poor prognosis of these patients, the search for a reversible cause of respiratory worsening remains paramount. Infections have been theorized to play a role in ILDs, both in the pathogenesis of ILD and as potential triggers of AE. Research efforts thus far have shown the highest association with viral pathogens; however, fungal and bacterial organisms have also been implicated. This review aims to summarize the current knowledge on the role of infections in the setting of ILD.

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