Abstract: Interstitial lung disease (ILD) may occur in patients with a rheumatic autoimmune disease (AD), increasing their risk of morbidity and mortality. However, little is known about the prevalence of AD in patients diagnosed with an ILD. In this prospective study, we determined the spectrum of ILD associated with AD (AD-ILD) among patients sent for assessment to a single clinic of ILD and lung transplantation from a referral center between May 2016 and December 2019. ILD diagnosis was made by pneumologists based on clinical and radiological findings and pulmonary function test abnormalities. All patients with ILD were also assessed by experienced rheumatologists. During the period of assessment, 338 patients were diagnosed with ILD. Among them, 32.8% fulfilled definitions for an AD. Most cases with AD-ILD had a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (27.0%), systemic sclerosis (26.1%) or anti-synthetase syndrome (17.1%). Interestingly, 18% of the patients with AD-ILD were diagnosed as having an interstitial pneumonia with autoimmune features. Antinuclear antibodies and non-specific interstitial pneumonia were the most frequent positive autoantibodies and radiological pattern found in AD-ILD patients, respectively. In conclusion, our study indicates that a high number of ILD patients have a related AD. Consequently, close collaboration among rheumatologists and pneumologists is needed.
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