Progressive fibrosing interstitial lung disease associated with systemic autoimmune diseases

Aryeh Fischer, Jörg Distler
Clinical Rheumatology 2019 August 19
Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a common manifestation of systemic autoimmune diseases and a leading cause of death in these patients. A proportion of patients with autoimmune ILDs develop a progressive fibrosing form of ILD, characterized by increasing fibrosis on high-resolution computed tomography, worsening of lung function, and early mortality. Autoimmune disease-related ILDs have a variable clinical course and not all patients will require treatment, but all patients should be monitored for signs of progression. Apart from systemic sclerosis-associated ILD, the limited evidence to support the efficacy of immunosuppression as a treatment for ILDs is based mainly on small retrospective series and expert opinion. Non-clinical data suggest that there are commonalities in the mechanisms that drive progressive fibrosis in ILDs with an immunological trigger as in other forms of progressive fibrosing ILD. This suggests that nintedanib and pirfenidone, drugs known to slow disease progression in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, may also slow the progression of ILD associated with systemic autoimmune diseases. In the SENSCIS® trial, nintedanib reduced the rate of ILD progression in patients with systemic sclerosis-associated ILD. The results of other large clinical trials will provide further insights into the role of anti-fibrotic therapies in the treatment of autoimmune disease-related ILDs.

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