Management issues in rheumatoid arthritis-associated interstitial lung disease

Bryant R. England, Daniel Hershberger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Purpose of reviewSummarize recent evidence on the identification and management of rheumatoid arthritis-associated interstitial lung disease (RA-ILD).Recent findingsClinical and subclinical interstitial lung disease (ILD) are frequent extra-articular manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Better means of identifying and treating RA-ILD are needed to improve the prognosis, with a median survival of only 3-7 years after diagnosis. Several serum biomarkers are currently being evaluated for their ability to detect RA-ILD. Thorough evaluation and multidisciplinary discussion remains the gold standard for establishing the diagnosis of RA-ILD. Management is challenging with most RA disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) linked to pneumonitis. Methotrexate is typically avoided in clinically significant ILD, although alternative therapies including leflunomide and biologic DMARDs also carry risks in RA-ILD. Antifibrotics appear to slow the progression of ILD, and a large phase II trial exclusively in RA-ILD is underway. In addition, smoking cessation, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, managing comorbidities, and lung transplantation evaluation are vital to improving patient outcomes in RA-ILD.SummaryWith little high-quality evidence to guide the management of RA-ILD, multidisciplinary teams with expertise in RA-ILD are highly valuable for diagnosing and treating RA-ILD. Clinical and translational research in RA-ILD is needed to fill the many evidence gaps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-263
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent opinion in rheumatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • interstitial lung disease
  • pulmonary fibrosis
  • rheumatoid arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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