Study identifies risk factors for ILD among primary Sjögren’s patients

Older age, smoking, Raynaud’s phenomenon may contribute to disease

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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Older age, smoking, and a condition called Raynaud’s phenomenon are risk factors for developing interstitial lung disease (ILD) among people with primary Sjögren’s syndrome, according to a recent study.

The study, “Interstitial lung disease and associated factors in patients with Sjögren’s syndrome,” was published in the Irish Journal of Medical Sciences.

ILD is the most common lung complication in Sjögren’s, affecting 10 to 20% of patients. ILD is an umbrella term for a group of conditions marked by lung tissue inflammation and scarring, leading to shortness of breath and dry cough.

Since ILD is linked to an increased risk of death, an early diagnosis is important to receive appropriate treatment and a more favorable prognosis.

Researchers in Turkey analyzed data from adults with primary Sjögren’s who’d been followed between January 2016 and July 2022 to shed light on the potential risk factors associated with developing ILD with the disease. In total, 403 patients (mean age, 55.4; 378 women) were included and 35 (8.7%) had ILD.

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Risk factors for ILD

The patients with ILD were significantly older (65.8 vs. 54.4) and had a longer disease duration (35.9 vs. 33.7 months) than those without ILD. The proportion of patients older than 65 was higher among those with ILD (71.4% vs. 23.4%), as was the proportion who smoked y (22.9% vs. 7.6%).

More than 80% of Sjögren’s patients with ILD had a cough and 71.4% had shortness of breath. They also had a higher rate of Raynaud’s phenomenon those without ILD (25.7% vs. 1.9%). Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition where the flow of blood to the fingers and toes slows or stops, causing them to be discolored, painful, and numb.

No differences were seen in the proportion of patients who tested positive for certain autoantibodies sometimes found with Sjögren’s between those with and without ILD.

Older age, that is, over 65, Raynaud’s phenomenon, and smoking were all risk factors for developing ILD among primary Sjögren’s patients, a statistical analysis showed.

During a follow-up, five patients with ILD showed progressive lung disease, as assessed by changes in the EULAR Sjögren’s syndrome disease activity index (ESSDAI), a standardized measure of Sjögren’s disease activity, where higher scores indicate more active disease. Immunosuppressive therapy with rituximab and mycophenolate mofetil with high-dose steroids was given to these patients. No deaths occurred.

“Age, smoking, and severity of lung involvement are more important than inflammation status and autoantibodies for prognosis,” the researchers wrote.