Occupational lung disease can take many forms, including obstructive airway disease, asthma, and restrictive parenchymal fibrosis. It would not be useful to attempt an all-encompassing review of such a broad topic, even if one were restricted to the most recent literature. Thus, I have chosen a small corner of one disease process that relates to work ongoing in my laboratory, ie, the potential role of growth factors in the pathogenesis of fibroproliferative lung disease. This process is the cornerstone of interstitial pulmonary fibrosis, which is caused by inhaling such commonly used materials as asbestos and silica. Diffuse interstitial pulmonary fibrosis results from chronic exposures in the workplace, and the initial lesions of the fibroproliferative process that culminate in interstitial pulmonary fibrosis are readily produced in the laboratory by exposing rats and mice. The disease could be mediated by a combination of peptide growth factors and cytokines that are expressed at sites of lung injury.
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