Calcineurin inhibitors in a cohort of patients with antisynthetase-associated interstitial lung disease

Clin Exp Rheumatol. May-Jun 2013;31(3):436-9. Epub 2013 Mar 7.


Objectives: The aim of this paper is to assess the effect of calcineurin inhibitors (tacrolimus or cyclosporine) for treating patients with interstitial lung disease (ILD) associated with antisynthetase autoantibodies.

Methods: Sixty patients with antisynthetase autoantibodies were identified in our myositis cohort of 179 patients. The medical records of 15 patients with antisynthetase autoantibody-associated ILD treated with tacrolimus/cyclosporine (11 for refractory disease and 4 as first-line therapy) between 1980 and 2011 were retrospectively reviewed. Serial pulmonary function tests were used to assess the clinical response. Qualitative data are presented as a number and percentage, and quantitative data as the median and interquartile range (IQR).

Results: Patients were classified as having probable or definite idiopathic inflammatory myopathy (8 dermatomyositis and 4 polymyositis), and pure interstitial lung disease (3 cases). The 15 patients had received tacrolimus/cyclosporine for an average of 19 (IQR 14-30) months. Median age at onset of ILD was 42.3 (IQR 32.4-56.8) years and median duration of lung disease before administration of calcineurin inhibitors was 11 (IQR: 5-49) months. Median duration of follow-up was 24 (IQR 12-32) months. Thirteen patients had anti-histidyl-transfer RNA synthetase autoantibody (anti-Jo-1) and two had anti-alanyl-transfer RNA synthetase autoantibody (anti-PL-12). A more than 10% increase in FVC or stabilisation was observed in 13 (87%; 95%CI 56-98) patients who received calcineurin inhibitors (9 [81%] refractory cases and 4 [100%] as first-line therapy).

Conclusions: Calcineurin inhibitors seem to be a good therapeutic option for managing ILD associated with antisynthetase autoantibodies, not only in refractory cases, but also as first-line treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alanine-tRNA Ligase / immunology
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / immunology
  • Calcineurin Inhibitors*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cyclosporine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / drug therapy*
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myositis / complications*
  • Myositis / immunology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tacrolimus / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vital Capacity


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Calcineurin Inhibitors
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Jo-1 antibody
  • Cyclosporine
  • Alanine-tRNA Ligase
  • Tacrolimus

Supplementary concepts

  • Antisynthetase syndrome