Columbia University Medical Center
Investigating Home Fungal and Bacterial Exposures as IPF Risk Factors
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) shares many features with chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), a lung disease caused by environmental exposure to mold and other inhaled antigens. We believe that IPF and chronic HP are not distinct diseases, but instead exist along a spectrum, and that home fungal and bacterial exposures are also risk factors for IPF. We will conduct a case-control study to establish environmental fungal and bacterial exposure as a novel and potentially targetable risk factor for IPF. We will perform home visits to collect household dust, and test dust and participants' blood samples to confirm fungal and bacterial exposure. Our findings may lead to future clinical trials of mold remediation strategies to decrease the progression and even the incidence of IPF.
Update: Our study is currently enrolling participants with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis and unaffected controls. We are performing home visits and environmental assessments. We have built a comprehensive database of well-characterized patients with these diseases, as well as a collection of patient biospecimens and environmental samples. We plan to complete analyses in the first half of next year that will correlate indices of home mold exposure with disease status. We will also begin to correlate home environmental exposures with measures of immune function in patients, in order to better understand the mechanisms that underlie pulmonary fibrosis.