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Lung. 1997;175(6):379-85.

Detection of interstitial pneumonitis in patients with rheumatoid arthritis by measuring circulating levels of KL-6, a human MUC1 mucin.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Dohgo Spa Hospital, Ehime, Japan.


In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), interstitial-pneumonitis is one of the major extraarticular complications that worsens a patient's prognosis. KL-6, a human MUC1 mucin, has been reported to be a sensitive serum marker for activity of interstitial pneumonitis. We investigated the clinical significance of serum KL-6 level in patients with RA. Serum levels of KL-6 and RA-associated inflammatory markers were evaluated in 177 RA patients. The diagnosis of active interstitial pneumonitis was made by clinical symptoms, pulmonary function tests, chest X-ray film, and high resolution CT. Serum KL-6 was increased in 8 of 9 (88.9%) RA patients with active interstitial pneumonitis but in only 1 of 168 (0.6%) RA patients without active interstitial pneumonitis. No significant correlation was found between KL-6 level and conventional clinical parameters. In RA, abnormal elevation of serum KL-6 strongly indicates the complication of active interstitial pneumonitis.

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