Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a fatal disease in which progressive scarring of the lungs leads to respiratory failure. Lung scarring in IPF takes the form of aggregates of proliferating fibroblasts and myofibroblasts, known as "fibroblastic foci", which deposit collagen and other fibrotic components. These foci are thought to form in response to lung injury. The nature of these lesions and their relationship to disease progression are poorly understood. Mark Jones and colleagues at the University of Southampton in Southampton, UK, used a micro-computed tomography method to create three-dimensional images of fibroblastic foci from human IPF patients. These images demonstrated that IPF foci are complex structures with a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Importantly, patients had numerous foci that were not interconnected, suggesting that foci form at discrete sites of lung injury. This method of imaging may help researchers understand the relationship between fibroblastic foci and disease progression in IPF patients.
Source: Journal of Clinical Investigation