Rituximab experience from a single centre for patients with rheumatoid arthritis-related interstitial lung disease Rituximab in RA-ILD

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Didem Sahin Eroglu
Anil Colaklar
Serdar Baysal
Murat Torgutalp
Asaf Baygul
Mucteba Enes Yayla
Serdar Sezer
Caglar Uzun
Ozlem Ozdemir Kumbasar
Tahsin Murat Turgay
Gulay Kinikli
Askin Ates


Rheumatoid arthritis, interstitial lung disease, progression, rituximab


Objective. To demonstrate the effects of rituximab (RTX) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis-related interstitial lung disease (RA-ILD). Methods. A total of 165 patients who used RTX for the management of rheumatoid arthritis were retrospectively scrutinised. Among these, 26 patients diagnosed with RA-ILD were analysed (61.5% male, mean age at RTX infusion 61.4 ± 6.5 years). To evaluate the efficacy of RTX on lung response, patients with pulmonary function test results and/or thorax computed tomography (chest-CT) of pre- and post-RTX were compared. Disease progression was defined as either a decline of ≥10% in forced vital capacity (FVC) and/or a decline of ≥15% in diffusion capacity of carbon monoxide (DLCO), or an increase of parenchymal involvement on chest-CT images according to the radiologists’ assessment. Results. Among 26 patients, the most common radiologic pattern was usual interstitial pneumonia (42.3%), followed by non-specific interstitial pneumonia (38.5%). Data for lung response was available in 20 patients. Median pre- and post- RTX DLCO values were 71.0% (60.0-77.0) and 63.0% (47.0-74.0), respectively (p= 0.06). Median pre- and post-RTX FVC values were 74.0% (61.0-99.0) and 84.0% (63.0-100.0), respectively (p= 0.28). Overall, stabilization or regression of RA-ILD was provided in 13 (65.0%) patients, whereas 7 patients had progressive RA-ILD. Post-RTX, 5 patients were diagnosed with RA-ILD. Conclusion. Our results suggest that RTX is effective in achieving stabilization or even improvement of RA-ILD. However, considering that it does not cause regression in every patient and some develop RA-ILD under RTX, we still need more effective treatment options.

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