Inorganic particulate matter in the lung tissue of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patients reflects population density and fine particle levels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Research units

  • University of Helsinki
  • University of Oulu
  • Helsinki University Central Hospital
  • University Hospital of Oulu


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)is a chronic lung disease with a dismal prognosis and an unknown etiology. Inorganic dust is a known risk factor, and air pollution seems to affect disease progression. We aimed to investigate inorganic particulate matter in IPF lung tissue samples. Using polarizing light microscopy, we examined coal dust pigment and inorganic particulate matter in 73 lung tissue samples from the FinnishIPF registry. We scored the amount of coal dust pigment and particulate matter from 0 to 5. Using energy dispersive spectrometry with a scanning electron microscope, we conducted an elemental analysis of six IPF lung tissue samples. We compared the results to the registry data, and to the population density and air quality data. To compare categorical data, we used Fisher's exact test; we estimated the survival of the patients with Kaplan-Meier curves. We found inorganic particulate matter in all samples in varying amounts. Samples from the southern regions of Finland, where population density and fine particle levels are high, more often had particulate matter scores from 3 to 5 than samples from the northern regions (31/50, 62.0% vs. 7/23, 30.4%, p = 0.02). The highest particulate matter scores of 4 and 5 (n = 15)associated with a known exposure to inorganic dust (p = 0.004). An association between particulate matter in the lung tissue of IPF patients and exposure to air pollution may exist.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-142
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Air pollution, Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Particulate matter, Polarizing light microscopy, Scanning electron microscopy, Usual interstitial pneumonia

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