The efficacy and safety of systemic corticosteroids as first line treatment for granulomatous lymphocytic interstitial lung disease

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2023 Aug;152(2):528-537. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2022.12.813. Epub 2022 Dec 29.


Background: Granulomatous and lymphocytic interstitial lung disease (gl-ILD) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality among patients with common variable immunodeficiency. Corticosteroids are recommended as first-line treatment for gl-ILD, but evidence for their efficacy is lacking.

Objectives: This study analyzed the effect of high-dose corticosteroids (≥0.3 mg/kg prednisone equivalent) on gl-ILD, measured by high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scans, and pulmonary function test (PFT) results.

Methods: Patients who had received high-dose corticosteroids but no other immunosuppressive therapy at the time (n = 56) and who underwent repeated HRCT scanning or PFT (n = 39) during the retrospective and/or prospective phase of the Study of Interstitial Lung Disease in Primary Antibody Deficiency (STILPAD) were included in the analysis. Patients without any immunosuppressive treatment were selected as controls (n = 23). HRCT scans were blinded, randomized, and scored using the Hartman score. Differences between the baseline and follow-up HRCT scans and PFT were analyzed.

Results: Treatment with high-dose corticosteroids significantly improved HRCT scores and forced vital capacity. Carbon monoxide diffusion capacity significantly improved in both groups. Of 18 patients, for whom extended follow-up data was available, 13 achieved a long-term, maintenance therapy independent remission. All patients with relapse were retreated with corticosteroids, but only one-fifth of them responded. Two opportunistic infections were found in the corticosteroid treatment group, while overall infection rate was similar between cohorts.

Conclusions: Induction therapy with high-dose corticosteroids improved HRCT scans and PFT results of patients with gl-ILD and achieved long-term remission in 42% of patients. It was not associated with major side effects. Low-dose maintenance therapy provided no benefit and efficacy was poor in relapsing disease.

Keywords: CVID; Granulomatous and lymphocytic interstitial lung disease; Hartmann score; corticosteroids; gl-ILD; immune dysregulation; observational trial; pulmonary function tests; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial* / drug therapy
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial* / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Immunosuppressive Agents