Rheumatoid arthritis-interstitial lung disease: manifestations and current concepts in pathogenesis and management

Eur Respir Rev. 2021 Jun 23;30(160):210011. doi: 10.1183/16000617.0011-2021. Print 2021 Jun 30.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic inflammatory disorder, with the most common extra-articular manifestation of RA being lung involvement. While essentially any of the lung compartments can be affected and manifest as interstitial lung disease (ILD), pleural effusion, cricoarytenoiditis, constrictive or follicular bronchiolitis, bronchiectasis, pulmonary vasculitis, and pulmonary hypertension, RA-ILD is a leading cause of death in patients with RA and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. In this review, we focus on the common pulmonary manifestations of RA, RA-ILD and airway disease, and discuss evolving concepts in the pathogenesis of RA-associated pulmonary fibrosis, as well as therapeutic strategies, and have revised our previous review on the topic. A rational clinical approach for the diagnosis and management of RA-ILD, as well as an approach to patients with clinical worsening in the setting of treatment with disease-modifying agents, is included. Future directions for research and areas of unmet need in the realm of RA-associated lung disease are raised.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / epidemiology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / therapy
  • Bronchiectasis*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary*
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial* / diagnosis
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial* / epidemiology
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial* / etiology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis*