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Clinical characteristics and outcomes of hypersensitivity pneumonitis in South Korea.

BACKGROUND: Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) is an interstitial lung disease (ILD) that results from an immune-mediated reaction involving various antigens in susceptible individuals. However, the clinical characteristics and outcomes of HP in South Korea are not well understood.

OBJECTIVES: This study was conducted to identify the clinical characteristics and outcomes of HP in South Korea.

DESIGN: This is a retrospective observational study investigating patients with pathologically confirmed HP at our center, along with a comprehensive review of published HP cases in the Republic of Korea.

METHODS: This retrospective study analyzed 43 patients with pathologically proven HP at a single tertiary hospital in Korea between 1996 and 2020. In addition, case reports of HP published in Korea were collected. The clinical characteristics, etiologies, treatment, and outcomes of patients from our center, as well as case reports, were reviewed. Patients from our hospital were divided into fibrotic and nonfibrotic subtypes according to the ATS/JRS/ALAT guidelines.

RESULTS: Among 43 patients with biopsy-proven HP, 12 (27.9%) and 31 (72.1%) patients were classified into the fibrotic and nonfibrotic subtypes, respectively. The fibrotic HP group was older (64.6 ± 8.5 versus 55.2 ± 8.3, p  = 0.002) with less frequent complaints of fever (0% versus 45.2%, p  = 0.013) compared to the nonfibrotic HP group. The most common inciting antigen was household mold (21, 48.8%), followed by inorganic substances (6, 14.0%). Inciting antigens were not identified in eight (18.6%) patients. Treatment of corticosteroids was initiated in 34 (79.1%) patients. An analysis of 46 patients from Korea by literature review demonstrated that reported cases were relatively younger and drugs were the most common etiology compared to our cohort.

CONCLUSION: The analysis of reported cases, as well as our cohort, showed that exposure history and clinical manifestations are heterogeneous for patients with HP in South Korea.

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