Background: Pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis (PPFE) is a rare interstitial lung disease (ILD) featuring dense fibrosis of the visceral pleura and subpleural parenchyma, mostly in the upper lobes. PPFE can present in other ILDs, including rheumatoid arthritis-associated ILD (RA-ILD). The aim of this retrospective study was to investigate the prevalence and clinical implications of coexistent PPFE in RA-ILD. Methods: Overall, 477 patients with RA-ILD were recruited from two cohorts; their clinical data and HRCT images were analysed. The criteria for diagnosing PPFE were (1) pleural thickening with bilateral subpleural dense fibrosis in the upper lobes, (2) evidence of disease progression, and (3) absence of other identifiable aetiologies. Results: The median follow-up duration was 3.3 years. The mean age of the patients was 63.4 years, and 60.0% were women. PPFE was identified in 31 patients (6.5%). The PPFE group showed significantly lower body mass index and forced vital capacity (FVC) and more frequent usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP)-like pattern on HRCT than no-PPFE group. The risk factors for all-cause mortality were older age, lower FVC, and the presence of UIP-like pattern on HRCT; PPFE was not significantly associated with mortality in both all patients and a subgroup with a UIP-like pattern. The presence of PPFE was associated with a significantly increased risk of pneumothorax and greater decline in diffusing capacity. Conclusions: PPFE was not rare in patients with RA-ILD and was significantly associated with an increased risk of pneumothorax and greater lung function decline, though we found no significant association with mortality.
- Interstitial lung disease
- Pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis