Background: Given the phenotypic similarities between rheumatoid arthritis (RA)-associated interstitial lung disease (ILD) (hereafter, RA-ILD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, we hypothesized that the strongest risk factor for the development of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, the gain-of-function MUC5B promoter variant rs35705950, would also contribute to the risk of ILD among patients with RA.
Methods: Using a discovery population and multiple validation populations, we tested the association of the MUC5B promoter variant rs35705950 in 620 patients with RA-ILD, 614 patients with RA without ILD, and 5448 unaffected controls.
Results: Analysis of the discovery population revealed an association of the minor allele of the MUC5B promoter variant with RA-ILD when patients with RA-ILD were compared with unaffected controls (adjusted odds ratio, 3.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.8 to 5.2; P=9.7×10-17). The MUC5B promoter variant was also significantly overrepresented among patients with RA-ILD, as compared with unaffected controls, in an analysis of the multiethnic case series (adjusted odds ratio, 5.5; 95% CI, 4.2 to 7.3; P=4.7×10-35) and in a combined analysis of the discovery population and the multiethnic case series (adjusted odds ratio, 4.7; 95% CI, 3.9 to 5.8; P=1.3×10-49). In addition, the MUC5B promoter variant was associated with an increased risk of ILD among patients with RA (adjusted odds ratio in combined analysis, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.8 to 5.4; P=7.4×10-5), particularly among those with evidence of usual interstitial pneumonia on high-resolution computed tomography (adjusted odds ratio in combined analysis, 6.1; 95% CI, 2.9 to 13.1; P=2.5×10-6). However, no significant association with the MUC5B promoter variant was observed for the diagnosis of RA alone.
Conclusions: We found that the MUC5B promoter variant was associated with RA-ILD and more specifically associated with evidence of usual interstitial pneumonia on imaging. (Funded by Société Française de Rhumatologie and others.).