Objectives: To assess the prevalence, extent, progression, functional impact and mortality of interstitial lung disease (ILD) in a nationwide unselected MCTD cohort.
Methods: The study cohort included patients with high-resolution CT lung scans available at baseline (n = 135) and at follow-up (n = 119). The extent of disease was expressed as percentage of total lung volume (TLV).
Results: ILD was present in 41% of MCTD patients at follow-up. Median (interquartile) extent (% of TLV) was 5 (8) at baseline and 7 (17) at follow-up, mean length 6.4 years later. The lung disease progressed in 19% of patients across the observation period. Predictors of ILD progression were elevated anti-RNP titre [hazard ratio (HR) 1.5, 95% CI: 1.1, 2.0; P = 0.008], presence of anti-ro52 antibodies (HR = 3.5, 95% CI: 1.2, 10.2; P = 0.023), absence of arthritis (HR = 0.2, 95% CI: 0.1, 0.6; P = 0.004) and male gender (HR = 4.0, 95% CI: 1.4, 11.5; P = 0.011) after age and baseline disease adjustments. The risk of death increased by 2.9 (95% CI: 1.1, 7.9; P = 0.038) in patients where disease involved ⩾5% of TLV.
Conclusion: Lung disease extent and progression in MCTD are modest. Yet, the extension continues several years after MCTD diagnosis causing lung function decline and increasing the risk of mortality. The study identified male gender, elevated anti-RNP titre, presence of anti-ro52 antibodies and absence of arthritis as the strongest predictors of ILD progression.
Keywords: anti-ribonucleoprotein antibodies; interstitial lung disease; mixed connective tissue disease; mortality; pulmonary fibrosis.
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