Background: Interstitial lung diseases (ILDs) are chronic, parenchymal lung diseases with a variable clinical course and a poor prognosis. Within various clinical courses, acute exacerbation (AE) is a devastating condition with significant morbidity and high mortality. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of interleukin-6 (IL-6) to predict AE and prognosis in patients with ILD.
Methods: Eighty-three patients who were diagnosed with ILD from 2016 to 2019 at the Haeundae Paik Hospital, Busan, South Korea, were included and their clinical data were retrospectively analyzed.
Results: The median follow-up period was 20 months. The mean age was 68.1 years and 65.1% of the patients were men with 60.2% of patients being ever-smokers. Among ILDs, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis was the most common disease (68.7%), followed by connective tissue disease-associated ILD (14.5%), cryptogenic organizing pneumonia (9.6%), and nonspecific interstitial pneumonia (6.0%). The serum levels of IL-6 were measured at diagnosis with ILD and sequentially at follow-up visits. During the follow-ups, 15 (18.1%) patients experienced an acute exacerbation (AE) of ILD and among them, four (26.7%) patients died. In the multivariable analysis, high levels of IL-6 (OR 1.014, 95% CI: 1.001-1.027, p = 0.036) along with lower baseline saturations of peripheral oxygen (SpO2) were independent risk factors for AE. In the receiver operating characteristic curve analysis, the area under the curve was 0.815 (p < 0.001) and the optimal cut-off value of serum IL-6 to predict AE was 25.20 pg/mL with a sensitivity of 66.7% and specificity of 80.6%. In the multivariable Cox analysis, a high level of serum IL-6 (HR 1.007, 95% CI: 1.001-1.014, p = 0.018) was only an independent risk factor for mortality in ILD patients.
Conclusions: In our study, a high level of serum IL-6 is a useful biomarker to predict AE and poor prognosis in patients with ILD.