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BackgroundInterstitial 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.MethodsWe 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.Results40 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.Conclusion3.1% 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.

Original publication




Journal article


ERJ Open Research


European Respiratory Society (ERS)

Publication Date





00226 - 2022