Interstitial lung disease (ILD) accounts for the major cause of morbidity and mortality in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, little is known of the pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of RA-associated ILD. In this review, we describe our present understanding and ongoing research in RA-ILD. Its aetiology does appear to associate with anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies, MUC5B mutation and smoking. Another focus of this article is on recent diagnostic methods in RA-ILD. Compared with other methods, high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) imaging is a main method for the evaluation of ILD in RA patients. Pulmonary function is better suited for assessing progression. An important topic relates to therapeutic intervention. Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) in RA lack strong evidence in the onset or worsening of ILD. The available literature support that methotrexate, leflunomide, abatacept and rituximab play beneficial roles in the prevention and treatment of RA-ILD.

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