Pulmonary Complications of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Hamish Farquhar, Robert Vassallo, Adrienne L. Edwards, Eric L. Matteson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common chronic autoimmune disorder that characteristically causes joint inflammation and damage. In addition, many patients develop extraarticular manifestations which may cause significant comorbidity and premature mortality. Some respiratory tract involvement of the upper and lower airways and parenchymal disease features are unique to RA, including cricoarytenoid arthritis and RA pulmonary nodulosis, and others, especially the interstitial parenchymal involvement, occur in many other idiopathic and autoimmune diseases. The pathophysiology of lung disease is not well understood. Rheumatoid lung disease may even predate the onset of joint disease, and could be triggered by chronic airway and alveolar epithelial injury. Chronic systemic inflammation and risk factors such as cigarette smoking, infection, host genetics, and immune dysregulation are contributors. Treatment of the respiratory disease is directed at reducing the systemic inflammation of RA. Less well understood is the management of the interstitial lung disease of RA, for which antifibrotic and immune suppressive agents may be helpful. The management of RA-related lung disease is perhaps the major remaining hurdle in reduction of the disease burden related to extraarticular manifestations of this disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-207
Number of pages14
JournalSeminars in Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019


  • airways disease
  • diagnosis
  • interstitial lung disease
  • lung disease
  • pathology
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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