Background: The clinical significance of circulating autoantibodies in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is unclear. The objective of this study was to determine the frequency and clinical significance of circulating autoantibodies in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Methods: We measured an extensive panel of autoantibodies (including rheumatoid factor, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide, and anti-nuclear antibodies by immunofluorescence) associated with connective tissue disease or vasculitis in a cohort of well-characterized patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (n = 67). The prevalence of circulating autoantibodies was compared between idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patients and healthy controls (n = 52). We compared the clinical characteristics of patients with and without circulating autoantibodies, and analyzed the relationship between autoantibody positivity and transplant-free survival time.
Results: Positive autoantibodies were found in 22% of patients with IPF and 21% of healthy controls. There were no differences in the types of autoantibodies found between patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and healthy controls. Among patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, there were no significant differences in clinical characteristics between those with and without circulating autoantibodies. The presence of circulating autoantibodies was associated with longer transplant-free survival time on adjusted analysis, however the significance varied depending on which statistical model was used (HR 0.22-0.47, p value 0.02-0.17).
Conclusions: The frequency of circulating autoantibodies in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is no different compared to healthy controls, but may be associated with longer survival.
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