Survival and quality of life in rheumatoid arthritis-associated interstitial lung disease after lung transplantation

J Heart Lung Transplant. 2014 May;33(5):514-20. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2014.01.858. Epub 2014 Jan 24.


Background: Patients with rheumatoid arthritis-associated interstitial lung disease (RA-ILD) have increased mortality with limited treatment options. We set out to examine post-transplant survival in RA-ILD patients compared with patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and scleroderma-associated ILD (SSc-ILD). We also describe post-transplant quality of life (QoL) outcomes in RA-ILD.

Methods: A retrospective review was performed on lung transplantation (1989 to 2011) among patients with RA-ILD, IPF (group-matched for age and transplant year) and SSc-ILD. Cumulative survival after transplantation was estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method and compared between groups using the log-rank test. The 36-item Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form (SF-36) and the St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) scores, before and after lung transplantation, were analyzed.

Results: Overall, 10 patients with RA-ILD, 53 with IPF and 17 with SSc-ILD underwent lung transplantation with ages (mean ± SD) of 59.4 ± 5.6, 61.0 ± 4.0 and 45.4 ± 12.7 years, respectively. Cumulative survival rates at 1-year post-transplant for the RA-ILD, IPF and SSc-ILD groups were 67%, 69% and 82%, respectively, and there was no significant difference among groups in age- and gender-adjusted analyses. Among the RA-ILD patients, mean SF-36 physical component summary scores improved from 22.4 ± 8.1 to 32.2 ± 12.9 (p = 0.1), SF-36 mental component summary scores improved from 44.7 ± 15.3 to 54.9 ± 4.8 (p = 0.19) and SGRQ total scores improved from 70.4 ± 16.1 to 36.0 ± 18.5 (p = 0.03).

Conclusions: After lung transplantation, RA-ILD and IPF patients have similar survival rates. Further, in RA-ILD patients, lung transplantation appears to result in a significant improvement in QoL with regard to respiratory symptoms. These data suggest that lung transplantation should be considered in patients with end-stage RA-ILD.

Keywords: interstitial; lung; rheumatoid arthritis; survival; transplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / etiology
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / surgery*
  • Lung Transplantation / mortality*
  • Lung Transplantation / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Period
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate / trends