Introduction: Inflammatory arthropathies are rare complications of cystic fibrosis (CF). We describe three cases of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) occurring in patients with this disease.
Observations: Among the 100 patients under the care of the adult CF centre in Lille 3 presented with RA. This developed at the ages of 17, 44 and 19 years with a FEV1 of 53%, 42% and 94% respectively. They were 2 women and 1 man, with CFTR gene mutation delta F508 (1 homozygote and 2 heterozygotes) and positive sweat tests. They were colonised with Staphylococcus aureus, and rheumatoid factor and/or anti CCP antibodies were positive. The appearance and progression of RA were associated with exacerbations of bronchial infection and deterioration of respiratory function. In 2 patients the RA was continuously progressive despite intensive treatment involving high dose cortico-steroids, methotrexate (ineffective) followed by leflunomide (complicated by intractable respiratory infection).
Conclusion: There is an increased incidence of RA in our patient population with CF. The new serum markers of RA including anti CCP are of diagnostic interest. The evolution of the two diseases is related and seems to be dependent on the level of infection leading to therapeutic problems.