Interstitial pneumonia with autoimmune features: Why rheumatologist–pulmonologist collaboration is essential

Marco Sebastiani, Paola Faverio, Andreina Manfredi, Giulia Cassone, Caterina Vacchi, Anna Stainer, Maria Rosa Pozzi, Carlo Salvarani, Alberto Pesci, Fabrizio Luppi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In 2015 the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and the American Thoracic Society (ATS) “Task Force on Undifferentiated Forms of Connective Tissue Disease-associ-ated Interstitial Lung Disease” proposed classification criteria for a new research category defined as “Interstitial Pneumonia with Autoimmune Features” (IPAF), to uniformly de-fine patients with interstitial lung disease (ILD) and features of autoimmunity, without a definite connective tissue disease. These classification criteria were based on a variable combination of features obtained from three domains: a clinical domain consisting of extra-thoracic features, a serologic domain with specific autoantibodies, and a morphologic domain with imaging patterns, histopathological findings, or multicompartment in-volvement. Features suggesting a systemic vasculitis were excluded. Since publication of ERS/ATS IPAF research criteria, various retrospective studies have been published focusing on prevalence; clinical, morphological, and serological features; and prognosis of these patients showing a broad heterogeneity in the results. Recently, two prospective, cohort studies were performed, confirming the existence of some peculiarities for this clinical entity and the possible progression of IPAF to a defined connective tissue disease (CTD) in about 15% of cases. Moreover, a non-specific interstitial pneumonia pattern, an anti-nuclear antibody positivity, and a Raynaud phenomenon were the most common findings. In comparison with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), IPAF patients showed a better performance in pulmonary function tests and less necessity of oxygen delivery. However, at this stage of our knowledge, we believe that further prospective studies, possibly derived from multicenter cohorts and through randomized control trials, to further validate the proposed classification criteria are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Antibody
  • Autoimmunity
  • Classification
  • Connective tissue diseases
  • Idiopathic interstitial pneumonias
  • Interstitial lung diseases
  • Interstitial pneumonia with autoimmune features
  • Prognosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Interstitial pneumonia with autoimmune features: Why rheumatologist–pulmonologist collaboration is essential'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this