A recent study published in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology reported that interleukin-11 (IL-11) was significantly related to the development of interstitial lung disease (ILD) and disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and may serve as a potential treatment target.
The study included 106 RA (31 had ILD) patients and they were subdivided according to the 28-joint disease activity score into two subgroups: the active-disease group (DAS28 > 3.2) and the target-achieved group (DAS28 3.2). An upregulation in serum IL-11 was seen in RA patients than in healthy controls (HC). Furthermore, a more significant elevation of serum IL-11 was seen in RA-ILD patients compared to non-ILD RA patients.
The active-disease group showed a high IL-11 serum level compared to the target-achieved group, and a positive correlation between IL-11 serum level and DAS28 was confirmed by Pearson correlation analysis. Moreover, IL-11 serum levels also showed a positive correlation with erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein levels, and platelet count in RA patients.
The current therapy for RA-ILD is mainly conventional and non-specific involving immunosuppressive agents and non-specific anti-fibrotic drugs. This is a novel study reporting the role of IL-11 in RA-ILD patients. The pathogenesis of RA-ILD is not completely clear.
Hence, this study can help in understanding the pathogenesis of RA and RA-ILD. Wang and co-authors have concluded that IL-11 may play a key role in the development of arthritis and ILD in RA patients and further function as a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of RA-ILD.
Reference: Wang X, Zhu G, Ren Q, Wu J, Gu B, Su D, Shen M. Increased interleukin-11 associated with disease activity and development of interstitial lung disease in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2022 Jan;40(1):135-141.