Constrictive (Obliterative) bronchiolitis as presenting manifestation of connective tissue diseases

Antonella Arcadu, Jay H. Ryu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Constrictive (obliterative) bronchiolitis (CB) is an uncommon form of obstructive lung disease that can occur in patients with identifiable causes including connective tissue diseases (CTDs) as a form of lung involvement. We explored whether CB can be the presenting manifestation of CTD. Methods We identified 44 patients with cryptogenic CB and examined the presenting clinical, laboratory, and radiologic features, as well as their clinical course. Results The mean age at presentation was 60.5 (SD, 13.8) years and included 38 women (86%); 32 (73%) were never smokers. All patients presented for evaluation of dyspnea, commonly associated with cough. An obstructive pattern on pulmonary function testing was demonstrated in 86% of patients. On chest high-resolution computed tomography, nearly all patients manifested a mosaic attenuation pattern with air trapping on expiratory views, characteristic of CB. Bronchoscopic lung biopsy (n = 10) was usually nondiagnostic (90%), whereas all 5 surgical lung biopsies yielded evidence of CB. Serologic testing for CTD was positive in 19 patients (43%) and most commonly included antinuclear antibody, rheumatoid factor, and anti-cyclic citrullinated antibodies. Seven of these patients with positive serologic results were eventually diagnosed to have CTD. Connective tissue diseases included rheumatoid arthritis in 4 patients, Sjögren syndrome in 2, and undifferentiated CTD in 1 patient. Conclusions Nearly one-half of patients with cryptogenic CB manifest positive CTD serology, and some of these patients have CTD not previously diagnosed. These results suggest that CB can be the presenting manifestation of a CTD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-180
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Rheumatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • bronchioles
  • bronchiolitis
  • bronchiolitis obliterans
  • connective tissue diseases
  • obstructive lung disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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