© 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive and fatal interstitial lung disease leading to respiratory failure. Mutations in telomerase complex genes (TERT or TERC) and short telomeres are genetic risk factors for the development of familial or sporadic idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Up to 15% of familial cases and approximately 5% of sporadic cases carry a heterozygous mutation in one of the genes, and patients' cells retain approximately 50% of telomerase activity. Pulmonary fibrosis also is a manifestation of dyskeratosis congenita, an inherited bone marrow failure syndrome caused by telomere dysfunction. Short telomeres even in the absence of telomerase mutations are a feature of most patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Telomerase mutations also have been linked to pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema syndrome. Although short telomeres have been clearly linked to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, the mechanisms of disease are still unclear.