Interstitial Lung Diseases
In ILDs, scarring damages tissues in or around the lungs’ air sacs and airways. The How the Lungs Work Health Topic to learn more about what happens to the blood in the lungs.is the space where the air sacs, called alveoli, come in contact with connective tissue and blood vessels to exchange and . If you have an ILD, the interstitial tissue becomes thick and stiff, making it harder for oxygen to move out of the lungs and into the bloodstream and for carbon dioxide to move out of the bloodstream and into the lungs. Visit our
ILDs may be caused by your sarcoidosis and certain disorders. Exposures to substances in the environment can also lead to some types of ILDs, including asbestos-related lung diseases and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. For some ILDs, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, the cause of the scarring is unknown. Childhood ILDs can have the same or different causes as ILDs in adults., medicines, or other medical conditions such as
ILDs can be mild or severe, and the amount of scarring can get worse over time. Depending on which ILD you have and how severe it is, your doctor may recommend avoiding environmental exposures if they trigger your condition. Alternatively, your doctor may recommend treating your condition and symptoms with medicines, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, or a lung transplant. Untreated ILDs can lead to complications such as growth problems in children, venous thromboembolism, lung cancer, pulmonary hypertension, heart failure, and respiratory failure.
Scarring in the lungs is often permanent, but early diagnosis and treatment can help slow or stop the scarring. Your medical team can help you learn how to manage your condition to improve your quality of life.
Visit Interstitial Lung Diseases for more information about this topic.
Research for Your Health
Improving health with current research
- Interstitial Lung Diseases
Learn about the following ways the NHLBI continues to translate current research into improved health for people who have an interstitial lung disease. Research on this topic is part of the NHLBI’s broader commitment to advancing scientific discovery on lung diseases.
- The NHLBI Stimulates New Treatment Approaches for Lung Disease. The Centers for Advanced Diagnostics and Experimental Therapeutics in Lung Diseases (CADET) program stimulates the development of new treatments for lung diseases and sleep disorders. The first stage, CADET I, supported research on how lung diseases develop. The second stage, CADET II, is funding research on new drugs. For information on CADET research on ILDs, visit NHLBI Supports CADET Researchers to Produce New Pulmonary Disease Drugs.
- Advancing the Understanding of Lung Development. The Molecular Atlas of Lung Development Program (LungMAP) is building a molecular map of the developing lungs in humans and mice. The program is helping advance lung research, in part through its Web-based data resource, called BREATH, that allows users to access LungMAP data and findings.
- Supporting Research Collaboration. The Pulmonary Trials Cooperative brings together patients, researchers, and healthcare professionals from more than 50 institutions, with a common goal of developing new treatments and testing current clinical care practices for ILDs and other lung diseases.
Learn about some of the pioneering research contributions we have made over the years that have improved clinical care.
- Outlining a research agenda for preventing ILD. In 2013, the NHLBI held a workshop to discuss the latest research on ILD and other chronic lung diseases and to identify key issues and gaps in knowledge. Workshop participants developed and presented a strategy for supporting research to promote lung health and prevent lung diseases. Visit Prevention of Chronic Lung Diseases for more information.
- A diabetes drug that may help treat lung fibrosis. Research partially supported by the NHLBI recently found that the medicine metformin, which is already approved to treat type 2 diabetes, has the potential to help treat progressive lung fibrosis. Visit Diabetes drug could treat lung fibrosis for more information.
- Determining which medicines are beneficial for scleroderma-associated ILD. Oral cyclophosphamide (CYC) helps improve lung function in scleroderma-related ILD, but it can be tolerated for only a year, because the medicine is toxic, and the beneficial effect quickly wears off. NHLBI-supported research tested another medicine, mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), and found that MMF was just as effective and was easier for patients to tolerate without feeling sick.
- NHLBI workshop on aging and lung disease biology. The Division of Lung Diseases held a workshop in 2015 to discuss the intersection of aging and lung biology, including why cellular aging is linked with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Participants identified research directions to advance our understanding and management of aging-related lung diseases, such as developing new animal models of IPF. Visit NHLBI Workshop on Intersection between Aging Biology and Pathobiology of Lung Diseases for more information.
Advancing research for improved health
- Interstitial Lung Diseases
In support of our mission, we are committed to advancing interstitial lung disease research in part through the following ways.
- We perform research. Our Division of Intramural Research, which includes investigators from the Pulmonary Branch, performs research on interstitial lung diseases.
- We fund research. The research we fund today will help improve our future health. Our Division of Lung Diseases oversees much of the research on interstitial lung diseases we fund, helping us understand and manage the conditions. Search the NIH RePORTer to learn about research the NHLBI is funding on interstitial lung diseases.
- We stimulate high-impact research. Our Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) program includes participants who have sarcoidosis or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, two types of ILDs, which may help us understand how genes contribute to differences in disease severity and how patients respond to treatment. The NHLBI Strategic Vision highlights ways we may support research over the next decade.
Learn about exciting research areas the NHLBI is exploring about interstitial lung diseases.
- Targeting lung tissue in pulmonary fibrosis. We support collaborative research into treatments that are more targeted for lung tissue to improve effectiveness and reduce side effects. A multiple-laboratory project is developing and testing methods to deliver therapies directly to lung cells.
- Understanding how lung disease develops in smokers. We support a collaborative research effort to understand how idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and other lung diseases develop in smokers. Research focuses on what may cause different diseases to develop in different people, which may help researchers develop better treatments in the future.
- Identifying the role of specific cells in lung disease. We support research that aims to understand the role of specific cells within the lungs and how they function within the immune system and in the context of lung disease. With improved understanding, more effective medicines can be developed to target the biological processes involved in lung fibrosis.
- Understanding changes on the cellular level. We support research to understand how changes on the protein level, within the lung cells, may lead to fibrosis and lung disease. Understanding how proteins are changed will provide a target for developing medicines to stop the changes.
- Exploring new treatments to prevent fibrosis. NHLBI-supported investigators are designing and testing whether an antibody can help prevent idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis scarring. The binds to a protein involved in telling the body to make scar tissue.
Participate in NHLBI Clinical Trials
We lead or sponsor many studies on interstitial lung diseases (ILDs). See whether you or someone you know is eligible to participate in our.
Are you between 40 and 85 with worsening idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis?
Do you have systemic sclerosis?
Do you have a first-degree relative diagnosed with an interstitial lung disease?
Are you an adult who has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or an advanced lung cancer?
Are you a healthy adult or an adult who has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and is interested in improving lung imaging methods?
After reading our Interstitial Lung Diseases Health Topic, you may be interested in additional information found at the following resources.
Related Health Topics
- Interstitial Lung Diseases
- Interstitial Lung Diseases
- Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (National Library of Medicine [NLM], Genetics Home Reference)
- Interstitial Lung Disease (NIH, Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center)
- Interstitial Lung Diseases (NLM, MedlinePlus)
- Lung Disorders (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Healthfinder.gov)
- Oxygen Therapy (NLM, MedlinePlus)
- Pulmonary Rehabilitation (NLM, MedlinePlus)