Dyskeratosis congenita (DC) is a rare genetic disorder of poor telomere maintenance. Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) related to DC is rarely reported.
A 23-year-old student presented with a four-year history of progressive cough and exertional dyspnea. Physical examination was remarkable for typical mucocutaneous abnormalities. Chest computerized tomography scan revealed interstitial fibrosis. Testing of peripheral blood leukocytes confirmed that his telomeres were 30th percentile of age-matched controls. A heterozygous missense mutation located in exon 22 of PARN gene was identified in the patient by whole exome sequencing. The patient refused danazol therapy and lung transplantation, and died of respiratory failure 2 years later. In addition, this case and 26 reported cases of DC-related PF identified through the comprehensive search of PubMed, Web of Science, WANFANG and CNKI were reviewed. Later-onset PF was observed in 11 patients (40.7%). Radiological usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) pattern or possible UIP pattern was noted only in half of patients. However, histopathological UIP or probable UIP patterns were found in 63.6% of patients. Age at bone marrow failure (BMF) and the frequency of normal to mild thrombocytopenia in later-onset patients was significantly higher than in early-onset patients (p = 0.017 and p = 0.021, respectively). Age at PF and age at BMF in DC patients with TERC/TERT variants was significantly higher than in those with TINF2 variants or DKC1/NHP2 variants (p = 0.004 and p = 0.003, respectively). The patients with TERT/TERC/RTEL1/PARN variants had a significantly better transplant-free survival than those with TINF2 variants or DKC1/NHP2 variants (p < 0.05). Patients who underwent surgical lung biopsy had significantly worse transplant-free survival than those without lung biopsy (p = 0.042). Worse survival was found in patients with immunosuppression therapy than in those without (p = 0.012).
It is common for DC-associated PF to occur later in life without significant hematological manifestations. Mutations in the genes encoding different components of the telomere maintenance pathway were associated with clinical phenotypes and prognosis. PF caused by DC should be kept in mind by clinicians in the differential diagnosis of patients with unexplained PF and should be excluded before diagnostic surgical lung biopsy is undertaken or empirical immunosuppression therapy is prescribed.

© 2021. The Author(s).