Rheumatoid arthritis-associated autoantibodies and subclinical interstitial lung disease: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis

Academic Article


  • Background Adults with interstitial lung disease (ILD) often have serologic evidence of autoimmunity of uncertain significance without overt autoimmune disease. We examined associations of rheumatoid arthritis (RA)-associated antibodies with subclinical ILD in community-dwelling adults. Methods We measured serum rheumatoid factor (RF) and anticyclic citrullinated peptide antibody (anti-CCP) and high attenuation areas (HAAs; CT attenuation values between -600 and -250 Hounsfield units) on cardiac CT in 6736 community-dwelling US adults enrolled in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. We measured interstitial lung abnormalities (ILAs) in 2907 full-lung CTs at 9.5-year median follow-up. We used generalised linear and additive models to examine associations between autoantibodies and both HAA and ILA, and tested for effect modification by smoking. Results In adjusted models, HAA increased by 0.49% (95% CI 0.11% to 0.86%) per doubling of RF IgM and by 0.95% (95% CI 0.50% to 1.40%) per RF IgA doubling. ILA prevalence increased by 11% (95% CI 3% to 20%) per RF IgA doubling. Smoking modified the associations of both RF IgM and anti-CCP with both HAA and ILA (interaction p values varied from 0.01 to 0.09). Among ever smokers, HAA increased by 0.81% (95% CI 0.33% to 1.30%) and ILA prevalence increased by 14% (95% CI 5% to 24%,) per RF IgM doubling; and HAA increased by 1.31% (95% CI 0.45% to 2.18%) and ILA prevalence increased by 13% (95% CI 2% to 24%) per anti-CCP doubling. Among never smokers, no meaningful associations were detected. Conclusions RA-related autoimmunity is associated with both quantitative and qualitative subclinical ILD phenotypes on CT, particularly among ever smokers.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Thorax  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Bernstein EJ; Barr RG; Austin JHM; Kawut SM; Raghu G; Sell JL; Hoffman EA; Newell JD; Watts JR; Nath PH
  • Start Page

  • 1082
  • End Page

  • 1090
  • Volume

  • 71
  • Issue

  • 12