Purpose of review
To summarize the current understanding of rheumatoid arthritis-associated interstitial lung disease (RA-ILD) throughout the rheumatoid arthritis (RA) disease course from preclinical to established disease.
ILD is a serious extra-articular manifestation of RA. Multiple studies have demonstrated a high prevalence of both subclinical and clinical ILD throughout the RA disease course. Investigations of patients without RA have demonstrated an association between RA-related autoantibodies like anticitrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA) and interstitial abnormalities on lung imaging. A significant proportion of RA-ILD patients develop ILD prior to articular manifestations, suggesting that the lung plays a central role in RA development, perhaps through ACPA production. RA-ILD also occurs in early RA, when exuberant autoantibody production and systemic inflammation may propagate pulmonary disease activity. In patients with established RA, a high burden of subclinical and clinical ILD results in significant morbidity, mortality, and healthcare expenditure. Multiple epidemiologic and genetic risk factors, as well as serum biomarkers, have been associated with RA-ILD.
Subclinical and clinical ILD occur frequently in preclinical, early, and established RA and may play a key role in RA-related autoantibody production and disease progression. Further studies are needed to better understand the risk factors, prognosis, and potential therapies for RA-ILD.