Increased monocyte level is a risk factor for radiological progression in patients with early fibrotic interstitial lung abnormality.
Achaiah A., Lyon P., Fraser E., Saunders P., Hoyles R., Benamore R., Ho L-P.
BACKGROUND: Interstitial lung abnormalities (ILA) are specific spatial patterns on computed tomography (CT) scan potentially compatible with early interstitial lung disease. A proportion will progress; management involves risk stratification and surveillance. Elevated blood monocyte levels have been shown to associate with progression of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The aims of the present study were: 1) to estimate the proportion of "early fibrotic" (EF)-ILAs (reticular±ground-glass opacities, excluding traction bronchiectasis and honeycombing) on CT scans of patients attending all-indications thoracic CTs, and proportion demonstrating radiological progression; and 2) to explore association between peripheral blood leukocyte levels and ILA progression. METHODS: We analysed all thoracic CT reports in individuals aged 45-75 years performed between January 2015 and December 2020 in one large teaching hospital (Oxford, UK) to identify patient CT reports consistent with EF-ILA. CT-contemporaneous blood leukocyte counts were examined to explore contribution to progression and all-cause mortality, using multivariate Cox regression. RESULTS: 40 711 patients underwent thoracic CT imaging during this period. 1259 (3.1%) demonstrated the EF-ILA pattern (mean±sd age 65.4±7.32 years; 735 (47.8%) male). EF-ILA was significantly associated with all-cause mortality (hazard ratio 1.87, 95% CI 1.25-2.78; p=0.002). 362 cases underwent at least one follow-on CT. Radiological progression was observed in 157 (43.4%) cases: increase in reticulation n=51, new traction bronchiectasis n=84, honeycombing n=22. Monocyte count, neutrophil count, monocyte:lymphocyte ratio, neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio and "systemic inflammatory response index" were significantly associated with radiological progression. CONCLUSION: 3.1% of subjects requiring thoracic CT during a 6-year period demonstrated EF-ILA. Monocyte levels and blood leukocyte-derived indexes were associated with radiological progression and could indicate which patients may require closer follow-up.