Background: Biomarkers have been proposed as tools to aid in the identification and prognostication of interstitial lung disease (ILD) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We performed a systematic review of studies evaluating peripheral blood biomarkers and their association with RA-ILD and its prognosis. Methods: Medline, Embase, the Cochrane Library, and Scopus were queried for relevant studies, with the final search update on July 12, 2021. We included studies evaluating peripheral blood biomarkers for the identification and/or prognostication of RA-ILD, extracting the performance of individual biomarkers for identifying RA-ILD, and predicting prognosis. Modified versions of the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies 2 and the Quality in Prognosis Studies tools were used for quality assessment. Results: Seventy studies met eligibility criteria. Study and patient characteristics, analytical methods, strength and consistency of associations, and study quality were heterogeneous. A total of 92 biomarkers were positively associated and 12 were negatively associated with RA-ILD among patients with RA in one or more report. Only a small number of biomarkers were evaluated in multiple cohorts using adjusted analyses. Biomarkers most strongly associated with RA-ILD overlapped with those identified for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Few prognostic biomarkers of RA-ILD were identified. Conclusion: Several peripheral blood biomarkers are associated with the presence of RA-ILD, but few have been assessed in multivariable models, have been externally validated, have discriminated RA-ILD from other lung disease, or have prognosticated the disease course. High-quality studies investigating and validating peripheral biomarkers in RA-ILD are needed before they can be employed in clinical care.
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