Combined pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema (CPFE): an entity different from emphysema or pulmonary fibrosis alone

Huijin Lin, Shanping Jiang


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and idiopathic interstitial pneumonias (IIP), with different radiological, pathological, functional and prognostic characteristics, have been regarded as separate entities for a long time. However, there is an increasing recognition of the coexistence of emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis in individuals. The association was first described as a syndrome by Cottin in 2005, named “combined pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema (CPFE)”, which is characterized by exertional dyspnea, upper-lobe emphysema and lower-lobe fibrosis, preserved lung volume and severely diminished capacity of gas exchange. CPFE is frequently complicated by pulmonary hypertension, acute lung injury and lung cancer and prognosis of it is poor. Treatments for CPFE patients with severe pulmonary hypertension are less effective other than lung transplantation. However, CPFE has not yet attracted wide attention of clinicians and there is no research systematically contrasting the differences among CPFE, emphysema/COPD and IIP at the same time. The authors will review the existing knowledge of CPFE and compare them to either entity alone for the first time, with the purpose of improving the awareness of this syndrome and exploring novel effective therapeutic strategies in clinical practice.