Clinical genetics in interstitial lung disease

Chad A. Newton, Philip L. Molyneaux, Justin M. Oldham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Interstitial lung disease (ILD) comprises a heterogeneous group of diffuse parenchymal lung processes with overlapping clinical, radiographic, and histopathologic features. Among the most common and deadly ILDs are idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis (CHP). As the name implies, the cause of IPF remains elusive, but a variety of genetic and infectious risk factors have been identified. CHP results from chronic inhalation of an organic antigen, usually of avian or mold origin, and may occur in patients with a genetic predisposition. While IPF is treated with anti-fibrotic compounds, CHP is generally treated by suppression of the immune system and elimination of the causative antigen. Despite advances in our understanding of IPF and CHP, there exists substantial variability in the diagnosis and treatment of these disease processes. Furthermore, IPF and CHP natural history and treatment response remain far from uniform, leaving it unclear which patients derive the most benefit from disease-specific therapy. While clinical prediction models have improved our understanding of outcome risk in patients with various forms of ILD, recent advances in genomic technology provides a valuable opportunity to begin understanding the basis for outcome variability. Such advances will ultimately allow for the incorporation of genomic markers into risk stratification and clinical decision-making. In this piece, we highlight recent advances in our understanding of the genomic factors that influence susceptibility and outcome risk among patients with IPF and CHP. Genomic modalities used to identify these genomic markers include genome-wide association studies, analyses of gene expression, drug-gene interaction testing, telomere length determination, telomerase mutation analysis, and studies of the lung microbiome. We then identify gaps in knowledge that should be addressed to help facilitate the incorporation of these genomic technologies into ILD clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
Issue numberAPR
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Genomics
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
  • Idiopathic interstitial pneumonia
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • Interstitial lung disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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