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Clinical Response of Rheumatoid Arthritis-Associated Pulmonary Fibrosis to Tumor Necrosis Factor-α Inhibition*

Robert Vassallo, MD; Eric Matteson, MD; Charles F. Thomas, Jr, MD, FCCP
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*From the Thoracic Diseases Research Unit, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Internal Medicine (Drs. Vassallo and Thomas), and Division of Rheumatology (Dr. Matteson), Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, MN.

Correspondence to: Charles F. Thomas, Jr, MD, FCCP, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Thoracic Diseases Research Unit, Stabile Bldg 826, Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, MN 55905; e-mail: thomas.charles@mayo.edu



Chest. 2002;122(3):1093-1096. doi:10.1378/chest.122.3.1093
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Treatment options for patients with pulmonary fibrosis associated with rheumatoid disease are limited. We report a case of a 71-year-old man with a 3-year history of seropositive rheumatoid arthritis (RA) referred to the pulmonary clinic because of progressive pulmonary symptoms associated with radiographic fibrosis that was progressive in spite of corticosteroid treatment. In an attempt to control his articular symptoms and alter the course of his pulmonary fibrosis, treatment with IV infusion of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α inhibitor infliximab was initiated. Following 1 year of therapy with this agent, the patient reported sustained improvement in dyspnea, cough, and exercise tolerance, in addition to improvement in joint symptoms. Stabilization of pulmonary function was indicated by repeat pulmonary function test findings. This report suggests that inhibition of TNF-α may be of significant benefit to patients with fibrosing lung conditions in the setting of RA.

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