Postdeployment Respiratory Syndrome in Soldiers With Chronic Exertional Dyspnea

Sergey S. Gutor, Bradley W. Richmond, Rui Hong Du, Pingsheng Wu, Kim L. Sandler, Grant MacKinnon, Evan L. Brittain, Jae Woo Lee, Lorraine B. Ware, James E. Loyd, Joyce E. Johnson, Robert F. Miller, John H. Newman, Stephen I. Rennard, Timothy S. Blackwell, Vasiliy V. Polosukhin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


After deployment to Southwest Asia, some soldiers develop persistent respiratory symptoms, including exercise intolerance and exertional dyspnea. We identified 50 soldiers with a history of deployment to Southwest Asia who presented with unexplained dyspnea and underwent an unrevealing clinical evaluation followed by surgical lung biopsy. Lung tissue specimens from 17 age-matched, nonsmoking subjects were used as controls. Quantitative histomorphometry was performed for evaluation of inflammation and pathologic remodeling of small airways, pulmonary vasculature, alveolar tissue and visceral pleura. Compared with control subjects, lung biopsies from affected soldiers revealed a variety of pathologic changes involving their distal lungs, particularly related to bronchovascular bundles. Bronchioles from soldiers had increased thickness of the lamina propria, smooth muscle hypertrophy, and increased collagen content. In adjacent arteries, smooth muscle hypertrophy and adventitial thickening resulted in increased wall-to-lumen ratio in affected soldiers. Infiltration of CD4 and CD8 T lymphocytes was noted within airway walls, along with increased formation of lymphoid follicles. In alveolar parenchyma, collagen and elastin content were increased and capillary density was reduced in interalveolar septa from soldiers compared to control subjects. In addition, pleural involvement with inflammation and/or fibrosis was present in the majority (92%) of soldiers. Clinical follow-up of 29 soldiers (ranging from 1 to 15 y) showed persistence of exertional dyspnea in all individuals and a decline in total lung capacity. Susceptible soldiers develop a postdeployment respiratory syndrome that includes exertional dyspnea and complex pathologic changes affecting small airways, pulmonary vasculature, alveolar tissue, and visceral pleura.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1587-1596
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • US soldiers
  • constrictive bronchiolitis
  • deployment
  • exertional dyspnea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Postdeployment Respiratory Syndrome in Soldiers With Chronic Exertional Dyspnea'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this