What is panlobular emphysema (PLE)?

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The condition panlobular emphysema (PLE) damages the lungs. The medical term for damage to the air sacs within the lungs is emphysema. Chronic bronchitis is one of two illnesses that fall under the umbrella of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Breathing problems, coughing, and wheezing are some of the respiratory symptoms that PLE can cause. Although there is no cure for PLE, there are therapies that can help decrease the condition’s growth and mitigate its symptoms.

This page explains what PLE is, as well as the symptoms, causes, therapy, and outlook. It also covers how PLE varies from another type of emphysema known as centrilobular emphysema, as well as the association between PLE and COPD (CE).

What is it?

Emphysema with PLE is a form of emphysema. Emphysema is a lung condition characterized by destruction to the microscopic air sacs, or alveoli. The exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place in these air sacs.

The alveolar walls become damaged and rupture in emphysema, resulting in larger air gaps that are less efficient at exchanging gases. This can cause breathing problems.

The entire secondary pulmonary lobule, which is a cluster of air sacs, might be affected by PLE. Lower regions of the lungs, known as lobes, may be more seriously affected.

Unlike certain other types of emphysema, PLE does not affect only one area of the lungs. PLE, on the other hand, affects alveoli throughout the lungs.


The outlook for people with PLE will differ depending on a number of circumstances, including:

  • whether or not the person experiences complications as a result of PLE
  • how the condition responds to medication
  • the person’s overall health

Some potential PLE problems, according to a 2021 article, include:


PLE can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AAT): This is a rare inherited disorder that may cause lung disease. Since exposure to toxic gases may worsen AAT deficiency, the link between AAT deficiency and PLE may not be a causal one.
  • Aging: Normal, age-related changes to the lungs may result in PLE.
  • Ritalin lung: This is the medical term for lung changes associated with injecting talc-containing methylphenidate, such as Ritalin.
  • Obliterative bronchiolitis: This is a condition in which the smallest airways of the lungs become obstructed due to inflammation.
  • Swyer-James syndrome: This is a lung condition in which a lung or part of a lung does not grow correctly following obliterative bronchiolitis.

Connections to COPD

COPD is a term that encompasses both emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Emphysema is characterized by the deterioration of the alveoli in the lungs, whereas chronic bronchitis is characterized by the inflammation of the airways.

COPD is defined as the progressive loss of lung tissue and increased airflow limitation, according to a 2021 article.


The signs and symptoms of emphysema might take years to manifest, according to the American Lung Association. When they start to happen, however, they may include the following:

  • wheezing
  • a cough that produces mucus
  • shortness of breath
  • tightness in the chest


Emphysema has no remedy at the moment. Treatments are available, however, to assist decrease the condition’s course and enhance quality of life.

The following are some of the most prevalent emphysema treatments:

  • bronchodilators, which are medications that widen the airways to ease breathing
  • anti-inflammatory drugs, which can help reduce airway inflammation
  • supplemental oxygen, which helps ensure that a person with breathing difficulties has enough oxygen in their blood
  • lung volume reduction surgery, which involves removing a diseased portion of lung tissue to reduce pressure in the lung
  • mental health interventions, which can help manage depression and anxiety

Differences from CE

PLE differs from other types of emphysema, including CE, according to Trusted Source.

CE mainly affects the upper lobes, whereas PLE involves the entire secondary pulmonary lobule, notably the bottom lobes.

PLE can be caused by a variety of causes, but CE is most usually linked to smoking.


Emphysema with PLE is a form of emphysema. The alveoli in the lungs get damaged and rupture in emphysema, resulting in huge air pockets that are inefficient in exchanging gases during respiration. As a result, emphysema is linked to respiratory symptoms such as difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing.

PLE affects the entire lung, unlike other types of emphysema. The lower lobes, on the other hand, may display the most severe indications of disease.

PLE can be caused by a variety of causes, including aging and a lack of AAT.

Although there is no cure for PLE, medication can help slow the progression of the disease and improve quality of life.

Bronchodilators can help with breathing, anti-inflammatories can help with airway inflammation, and opioid drugs can help with pain. A doctor may propose lung volume reduction surgery to remove the diseased area of the lungs that is causing issues in rare situations.