Rituximab for interstitial pneumonia with autoimmune features at two medical centres

Rheumatol Adv Pract. 2021 Nov 5;5(Suppl 2):ii1-ii9. doi: 10.1093/rap/rkab051. eCollection 2021 Nov.


Objectives: Many patients with interstitial lung disease (ILD) have autoimmune manifestations but do not meet criteria for a systemic rheumatic disease. A subset meets criteria for interstitial pneumonia with autoimmune features (IPAF) and have ILD requiring therapy. We conducted a multicentre observational study to examine the use of rituximab (RTX) in IPAF.

Methods: Patients from Mass General Brigham (MGB) and University of Chicago Medicine (UCM) were included if they were ≥18 years old, met the 2015 classification criteria for IPAF and were treated with RTX. Clinical improvement was defined as improvement in four out of four domains at 1 year after RTX initiation: documented clinician global assessment; oxygen requirement; need for respiratory-related hospitalization; and survival.

Results: At MGB, 36 IPAF patients (mean age 61 years, 44% female) were treated with RTX. At 1 year, 18 (50%) were clinically improved, 12 (33%) were stable, and 6 (17%) died from progressive respiratory failure. At UCM, 14 IPAF patients (mean age 53 years, 71% female) were treated with RTX. At 1 year, eight (57%) were improved, two (14%) were stable, three (21%) died from progressive respiratory failure, and one (7%) was lost to follow-up. Two patients experienced minor infusion reactions, and two patients discontinued therapy owing to adverse events (infections).

Conclusion: In patients with IPAF treated with RTX at two medical centres, the majority (40 [80%]) demonstrated improvement/stability at 1 year. These findings call for prospective studies, including randomized clinical trials, to determine the risks, benefits and cost effectiveness of RTX in IPAF.

Keywords: interstitial lung disease; interstitial pneumonia with autoimmune features; lung fibrosis.