Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a fibrotic lung disease that affects preterm infants, has a tissue-repair signaling problem that is also seen in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Vanderbilt University researchers report.

The discovery increases scientists’ understanding of the mechanisms underlying bronchopulmonary dysplasia and IPF. It also raises the possibility of treating both disorders by targeting the signaling dysfunction.

Researchers published the study in The American Journal of Pathology. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia and IPF occur on opposite sides of the human spectrum. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia stems from premature newborns’ long-term use of respiratory support, while IPF commonly develops in a person’s 60s or later.