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01.12.2017 | Review | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Clinical and Molecular Allergy 1/2017

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis: a complex lung disease

Clinical and Molecular Allergy > Ausgabe 1/2017
Gian Galeazzo Riario Sforza, Androula Marinou


Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), also called extrinsic allergic alveolitis, is a respiratory syndrome involving the lung parenchyma and specifically the alveoli, terminal bronchioli, and alveolar interstitium, due to a delayed allergic reaction. Such reaction is secondary to a repeated and prolonged inhalation of different types of organic dusts or other substances to which the patient is sensitized and hyper responsive, primarily consisting of organic dusts of animal or vegetable origin, more rarely from chemicals. The prevalence of HP is difficult to evaluate because of uncertainties in detection and misdiagnosis and lacking of widely accepted diagnostic criteria, and varies considerably depending on disease definition, diagnostic methods, exposure modalities, geographical conditions, agricultural and industrial practices, and host risk factors. HP can be caused by multiple agents that are present in work places and in the home, such as microbes, animal and plant proteins, organic and inorganic chemicals. The number of environment, settings and causative agents is increasing over time. From the clinical point of view HP can be divided in acute/subacute and chronic, depending on the intensity and frequency of exposure to causative antigens. The mainstay in managing HP is the avoidance of the causative antigen, though the complete removal is not always possible due to the difficulties to identify the agent or because its avoidance may lead to major changes in life style or occupational settings. HP is a complex syndrome that needs urgently for more stringent and selective diagnostic criteria and validation, including wider panels of IgG, and a closer collaboration with occupational physicians, as part of a multidisciplinary expertise.
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