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Effect of rituximab or tumour necrosis factor inhibitors on lung infection and survival in rheumatoid arthritis-associated bronchiectasis

Lookup NU author(s): Kundan Iqbal, Dr Clive Kelly


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© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Rheumatology. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: To evaluate rituximab (RTX) in patients with RA-associated bronchiectasis (RA-BR) and compare 5-year respiratory survival between those treated with RTX and TNF inhibitors (TNFi). METHODS: A retrospective observational cohort study of RA-BR in RTX or TNFi-treated RA patients from two UK centres over 10 years. BR was assessed using number of infective exacerbation/year. Respiratory survival was measured from therapy initiation to discontinuation either due to lung exacerbation or lung-related deaths. RESULTS: Of 800 RTX-treated RA patients, 68 had RA-BR (prevalence 8.5%). Post-RTX, new BR was diagnosed in 3/735 patients (incidence 0.4%). At 12 months post-Cycle 1 RTX, 21/68 (31%) patients had fewer exacerbations than the year pre-RTX, 36/68 (53%) remained stable and 11/68 (16%) had increased exacerbations. The rates of exacerbation improved after Cycle 2 and stabilized up to 5 cycles. Of patients who received ≥2 RTX cycles (n = 60), increased exacerbations occurred in 7/60 (12%) and were associated with low IgG, aspergillosis and concurrent alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency. Overall, 8/68 (11.8%) patients discontinued RTX while 15/46 (32.6%) discontinued TNFi due to respiratory causes. The adjusted 5-year respiratory survival was better in RTX-treated compared with TNFi-treated RA-BR patients; HR 0.40 (95% CI 0.17, 0.96); P =0.041. CONCLUSION: The majority of RTX-treated RA-BR patients had stable/improved pulmonary symptoms in this long-term follow-up. In isolated cases, worsening of exacerbation had definable causes. Rates of discontinuation due to adverse lung outcomes were better for RTX than a matched TNFi cohort. RTX is an acceptable therapeutic choice for RA-BR if a biologic is needed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Md Yusof MY, Iqbal K, Darby M, Lettieri G, Vital EM, Beirne P, Dass S, Emery P, Kelly C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Rheumatology

Year: 2020

Volume: 59

Issue: 10

Pages: 2838-2846

Print publication date: 01/10/2020

Online publication date: 17/02/2020

Acceptance date: 16/12/2019

ISSN (print): 1462-0324

ISSN (electronic): 1462-0332

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/rheumatology/kez676

PubMed id: 32065634


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