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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2014 May;33(5):514-20. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2014.01.858. Epub 2014 Jan 24.

Survival and quality of life in rheumatoid arthritis-associated interstitial lung disease after lung transplantation.

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Divisions of Rheumatology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Respirology, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Division of Immunology/Rheumatology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.
Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.
Divisions of Rheumatology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Electronic address:



Patients with rheumatoid arthritis-associated interstitial lung disease (RA-ILD) have increased mortality with limited treatment options. We set out to examine post-transplant survival in RA-ILD patients compared with patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and scleroderma-associated ILD (SSc-ILD). We also describe post-transplant quality of life (QoL) outcomes in RA-ILD.


A retrospective review was performed on lung transplantation (1989 to 2011) among patients with RA-ILD, IPF (group-matched for age and transplant year) and SSc-ILD. Cumulative survival after transplantation was estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method and compared between groups using the log-rank test. The 36-item Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form (SF-36) and the St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) scores, before and after lung transplantation, were analyzed.


Overall, 10 patients with RA-ILD, 53 with IPF and 17 with SSc-ILD underwent lung transplantation with ages (mean ± SD) of 59.4 ± 5.6, 61.0 ± 4.0 and 45.4 ± 12.7 years, respectively. Cumulative survival rates at 1-year post-transplant for the RA-ILD, IPF and SSc-ILD groups were 67%, 69% and 82%, respectively, and there was no significant difference among groups in age- and gender-adjusted analyses. Among the RA-ILD patients, mean SF-36 physical component summary scores improved from 22.4 ± 8.1 to 32.2 ± 12.9 (p = 0.1), SF-36 mental component summary scores improved from 44.7 ± 15.3 to 54.9 ± 4.8 (p = 0.19) and SGRQ total scores improved from 70.4 ± 16.1 to 36.0 ± 18.5 (p = 0.03).


After lung transplantation, RA-ILD and IPF patients have similar survival rates. Further, in RA-ILD patients, lung transplantation appears to result in a significant improvement in QoL with regard to respiratory symptoms. These data suggest that lung transplantation should be considered in patients with end-stage RA-ILD.


interstitial; lung; rheumatoid arthritis; survival; transplantation

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