SAN DIEGO – In the spring of 2024, the American College of Rheumatology is expected to release guidelines to help inform the screening, monitoring, and treatment of interstitial lung disease (ILD) in people with systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases (SARDs).
The guidelines, which were previewed during a session at the ACR’s annual meeting, will include 50 recommendations, 3 of which met criteria for a strong rating:
For people with SARDs at increased risk of developing ILD, the authors strongly recommend against screening with surgical lung biopsy.
For people with systemic sclerosis (SSc)-related ILD, the authors strongly recommend against glucocorticoids as a first-line ILD treatment.
For people with SSc-related ILD progression despite an initial ILD treatment, the authors strongly recommend against using long-term glucocorticoids.
Elana J. Bernstein, MD, MSc, a rheumatologist who directs the Columbia/New York-Presbyterian Scleroderma Center, and Sindhu R. Johnson, MD, a rheumatologist who directs the Toronto Scleroderma Program at the University of Toronto, provided a sneak peek of the recommendations to attendees before anticipated publication in Arthritis & Rheumatology and Arthritis Care & Research. For now, guideline summaries for screening and monitoring and treatment are currently available, and three manuscripts are under peer review: one about screening and monitoring, one about treatment, and one about the patient panel that participated in the effort.
“ILD is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in people with SARDs,” said Dr. Bernstein, who is co-first author of the guidelines. “People with systemic sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, idiopathic inflammatory myopathies, mixed connective tissue disease, and Sjögren’s disease are at greatest risk of developing ILD.”
Pediatric patients with SARDs excluded
The guidelines’ population of interest was people 17 years of age and older who were diagnosed with SARDs with a high risk of ILD. Pediatric patients with SARDs were excluded from the endeavor, as were those with systemic lupus erythematosus, antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody–associated vasculitis, sarcoidosis, ankylosing spondylitis, undifferentiated connective tissue disease, interstitial pneumonia with autoimmune features, and those with unclassifiable ILD.
In the realm of screening, the guideline authors conditionally recommend two screening tests for patients considered at increased risk of ILD: pulmonary function tests and high-resolution chest CT (HRCT). Pulmonary function tests should include spirometry, lung volumes, and diffusion capacity. “Office spirometry alone is insufficient,” said Dr. Johnson, who served as lead author of the guidelines. And while a HRCT scan is recommended, “some patients may present to the emergency room with acute onset shortness of breath, and they may receive a CT angiogram to screen for pulmonary embolism,” she said. “It’s important to note that CT angiograms are performed in incomplete inspiration to maximize pulmonary artery enhancement. This may produce atelectasis that may obscure or mimic ILD. As a result, CTA studies are often inadequate to screen for ILD.”
Once a patient is diagnosed with ILD, three tests are recommended for monitoring: pulmonary function testing (every 3-6 months the first year in patients with IIM and SSc, then less frequently once stable, and every 3-12 months in the first year in patients with RA, SjD, and MCTD, then less frequently once stable); ambulatory desaturation testing every 3-12 months; and HRCT as needed. Dr. Johnson noted that while that the screening of ILD lies within the realm of rheumatologists, “once a patient is diagnosed, we are encouraged to comanage these patients with pulmonologists,” she said. “Ambulatory desaturation testing is not an infrequent test in the hands of pulmonologists. This is where co-management can be helpful.” She characterized a 6-minute walk test with continuous oximetry as “insufficient and is not synonymous with ambulatory desaturation testing. Ambulatory desaturation testing includes up titration of oxygen if a patient desaturates.”
The guidelines conditionally recommend against using chest radiography, 6-minute walk test distance, ambulatory desaturation testing, and bronchoscopy for ILD screening, and there is a strong recommendation against surgical lung biopsy. “However, there are unique circumstances where these tests may be considered,” Dr. Johnson said. “For example, ambulatory desaturation testing may be helpful if a patient is unable to perform a pulmonary function test. Bronchoscopy may be used to rule out infection, sarcoidosis, lymphoma, or alveolar hemorrhage, and surgical lung biopsy may be considered if you’re trying to rule out a malignancy.”
Similarly, several tests are conditionally recommended against for the monitoring of ILD, including chest radiography, the 6-minute walk test distance, and bronchoscopy. “But there are unique circumstances where they may be considered,” she said. “The 6-minute walk test may be used if a patient is unable to perform a pulmonary function test or if they’re being assessed for lung transplantation. Bronchoscopy may be used to rule out infection or alveolar hemorrhage.”
Preferred treatment options described
First-line treatment recommendations for ILD were based on the best available published evidence, voting panel expertise, and patient preferences. For SSc, the preferred treatment options include mycophenolate (CellCept), tocilizumab (Actemra), or rituximab (Rituxan and biosimilars), while additional options include cyclophosphamide, nintedanib (Ofev), and azathioprine. For myositis, the preferred treatment options include mycophenolate, azathioprine, rituximab, or calcineurin inhibitors, while additional options include a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor or cyclophosphamide. For MCTD, the preferred treatment options include mycophenolate, azathioprine, or rituximab, while additional options include tocilizumab or cyclophosphamide. For RA and Sjögren’s, the preferred treatment options include mycophenolate, azathioprine, or rituximab, while additional options include cyclophosphamide. Dr. Johnson emphasized that there was low certainty evidence to recommend one treatment over another. “Many situations might lead a provider to choose a different option for ILD treatment, such as the presence of comorbidities or extra-pulmonary disease,” she said. “So, while our guidelines were focused on effectiveness for ILD, providers may choose therapies that will help ILD and other disease manifestations.”
The guidelines conditionally recommend a short course of glucocorticoids as a bridging therapy or for treatment of a flare of ILD in patients with myositis, MCTD, RA, and Sjögren’s. The panel strongly recommends against the use of glucocorticoids in patients with SSc due to the concern for inducing a scleroderma renal crisis. “While this may be common knowledge for rheumatologists, it may not be common knowledge for pulmonologists,” she said. “So here is an opportunity to educate our pulmonology colleagues in our consultation notes.”
The guidelines also include recommendations for progression of ILD, which was defined using the INBUILD trial criteria. Mycophenolate is conditionally recommended to be the first ILD treatment for all SARDs when progression occurs, if it wasn’t the first ILD treatment used. “If it was, then other medications that rheumatologists are used to can be considered as the next ILD treatment in the face of progression: rituximab, nintedanib, tocilizumab, and cyclophosphamide,” she said. The guidelines include a conditional recommendation against long-term glucocorticoid use in myositis, MCTD, RA, and Sjögren’s, plus a strong recommendation against long-term glucocorticoid use in SSc. Finally, there is a conditional recommendation of referral for lung transplant evaluation at the appropriate time at experienced centers.
Another group of recommendations has to do with cases of rapidly progressive ILD, which is characterized by rapid progression from no oxygen or a patient’s baseline oxygen requirement to a high oxygen requirement or intubation usually within days to weeks without a documented cause, such as infection or heart failure. “In cases of rapidly progressive ILD, which typically occurs in the setting of anti-MDA5 antibodies, there is a conditional recommendation for IV glucocorticoids plus two additional therapies: traditionally rituximab and mycophenolate,” Dr. Johnson said. “However, what may be new to some clinicians is combination IVIG [intravenous immunoglobulin] and a calcineurin inhibitor, notably tacrolimus,” she said. “This is the situation where experience at expert centers is influencing our guidelines in advance of data.”
A patient panel provided input
For the undertaking, a core team that included six rheumatologists; one pulmonologist; one thoracic radiologist; one expert on the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) methodology; and two literature review experts developed clinically relevant population, intervention, comparator, and outcomes (PICO) questions. The literature review team included 13 rheumatologists, 8 pulmonologists, and 3 methodologists. Finally, a 21-member patient panel was convened to share their values and preferences regarding screening, monitoring, and treatment of SARD-related ILD. Of these, Dr. Bernstein said that 4 were at risk for ILD and 17 had been diagnosed with ILD. Next, the literature review team conducted a systematic review and used the GRADE methodology to rate the available evidence as high, moderate, low, or very low. Then, a voting panel comprising 13 rheumatologists, 10 pulmonologists, 1 radiologist, and 3 patients from the patient panel cast votes for each PICO question and made final recommendations.
The review of evidence left the guidelines authors with 241 PICO questions, “which is a lot,” Dr. Bernstein said. “To put this in perspective, some guidelines address only 10 or 15 PICO questions. Fortunately, we had a dedicated group of experts who were up to the challenge.” Dr. Johnson emphasized that the forthcoming guidelines should not be used by insurers to mandate a specific order of prescribing. “Clinicians must retain the latitude to prescribe medications based on individual patient factors and preferences,” she said.
Dr. Bernstein disclosed that she is an adviser to, a consultant for, and has received grant or research support from Boehringer Ingelheim and has also received grant or research support from Kadmon and Pfizer. Dr. Johnson disclosed that she has received research support from the American College of Rheumatology to develop these guidelines. She has also been an investigator for trials sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, and Boehringer Ingelheim and has mitigated these relevant conflicts of interest 1 year prior to the development of these guidelines, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.
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Publish date : 2023-11-28 18:30:08
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