Monoclonal antibodies have emerged as a new class of agents causing drug-related pulmonary involvement in patients with systemic rheumatologic autoimmune diseases. The most frequently associated noninfectious pulmonary diseases are interstitial pneumonia (118 cases reported by August 2010), sarcoid-like disease and vasculitis (40 cases), and 97% of cases are associated with agents blocking tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a cytokine implicated in pulmonary fibrosis, granuloma formation, and maintenance. Drug-induced interstitial pneumonia has a poor prognosis, with an overall mortality rate of around one-third, rising to two-thirds in patients with pre-existing interstitial disease. Sarcoid-like disease has a better prognosis, with resolution or improvement in 90% of cases. Although the evidence comes overwhelmingly from case reports and case series, suggested recommendations for patient management include a detailed pre-therapeutic evaluation, early identification of symptoms suggestive of pulmonary disease, and tailored therapy. Mycobacterial infection should be exhaustively investigated, especially after anti-TNF administration. Large, prospective, postmarketing studies including nonbiological agents as controls may help elucidate the real risk of pulmonary disease in patients with rheumatologic autoimmune diseases receiving monoclonal antibodies.
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