Optical Biopsies Using Probe-Based Confocal Laser Endomicroscopy for Autoimmune Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis

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Introduction: Increasing numbers of cases of mild asymptomatic pulmonary alveolar proteinosis (PAP) are being reported with the recent increase in chest computed tomography (CT). Bronchoscopic diagnosis of mild PAP is challenging because of the patchy distribution of lesions, which makes it difficult to obtain sufficient biopsy samples. Additionally, the pathological findings of mild PAP, particularly those that differ from severe PAP, have not been fully elucidated. This study aimed to clarify the pathological findings of mild PAP and the usefulness of optical biopsy using probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy (pCLE). Methods: We performed bronchoscopic optical biopsy using pCLE and tissue biopsy in 5 consecutive patients with PAP (three with mild PAP and two with severe PAP). We compared the pCLE images of mild PAP with those of severe PAP by integrating clinical findings, tissue pathology, and chest CT images. Results: pCLE images of PAP showed giant cells with strong fluorescence, amorphous substances, and thin alveolar walls. Images of affected lesions in mild PAP were equivalent to those obtained in arbitrary lung lesions in severe cases. All 3 patients with mild PAP spontaneously improved or remained stable after ≥3 years of follow-up. Serum autoantibodies to granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor were detected in all 5 cases. Conclusion: Optical biopsy using pCLE can yield specific diagnostic findings, even in patients with mild PAP. pCLE images of affected areas in mild and severe PAP showed similar findings, indicating that the dysfunction level of pathogenic alveolar macrophages in affected areas is similar between both disease intensities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-176
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22-02-2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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