The lung in rheumatoid arthritis

Presse Med. 2011 Jan;40(1 Pt 2):e31-48. doi: 10.1016/j.lpm.2010.11.003. Epub 2010 Dec 31.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common inflammatory disease, affecting about 1% of the population. Although a major portion of the disease burden including excess mortality is due to its extra-articular manifestations, the prevalence of RA-associated lung disease is increasing. RA can affect the lung parenchyma, airways, and the pleura; and pulmonary complications are directly responsible for 10 to 20% of all mortality. Even though pulmonary infection and drug toxicity are frequent complications of RA, lung disease directly associated with the underlying RA is more common. The prevalence of a particular complication varies based on the characteristics of the population studied, the definition of lung disease used, and the sensitivity of the clinical investigations employed. An overview of lung disease associated with RA is presented here with an emphasis on parenchymal lung disease, pleural effusion, and airway involvement.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / chemically induced
  • Lung Diseases / diagnosis
  • Lung Diseases / etiology*
  • Pleural Diseases / etiology