Connective tissue disease-associated interstitial lung disease: a call for clarification

Chest. 2010 Aug;138(2):251-6. doi: 10.1378/chest.10-0194.


This commentary highlights the present dilemmas surrounding the classification of a patient with interstitial pneumonia who has clinical features suggesting an associated connective tissue disease but the features fall short of a clear diagnosis of connective tissue disease-associated interstitial lung disease under the current rheumatologic classification systems. This commentary illustrates what we perceive to be the limitations in the present approach to the classification of this group of patients and discusses problems with redefining the diagnosis of undifferentiated connective tissue disease to encompass patients with interstitial pneumonia. Finally, we advocate not only for a multidisciplinary approach to evaluation, but also disease classification and offer a proposal to define them as a distinct phenotype--lung-dominant CTD--for which prognostic, therapeutic, and pathobiologic implications can be tested in future, hopefully multiinstitutional, studies.

MeSH terms

  • Connective Tissue Diseases / complications
  • Connective Tissue Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / classification*
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / diagnosis