Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a group of disorders characterized by fibrosis and inflammation of the lungs. Dyspnea (i.e., breathlessness) is the most common symptom in ILD. To minimize dyspnea, ILD patients commonly avoid physical activity, leading to a progressive decline in exercise capacity, and eventually the inability to perform daily activities. Maintaining exercise capacity is important, given that ILD patients with the lowest physical activity levels have the lowest quality of life and the highest mortality.
Unfortunately, treatment options for improving dyspnea and exercise tolerance in ILD patients are limited. It is thought that skeletal muscle dysfunction, which appears to be common in ILD patients, may contribute to dyspnea and exercise intolerance. However, few studies have adequately investigated skeletal muscle dysfunction in patients with ILD.
Relative to the inexorable damage to the lungs, the skeletal muscles could be an important site by which to therapeutically reduce dyspnea and improve exercise tolerance. Dr. Molgat-Seon’s research aims to determine the role of skeletal muscle dysfunction on dyspnea and exercise intolerance in ILD. The results of this research could lead to improved functional capacity and quality of life in ILD patients.