Chest wall muscle atrophy as a contributory factor for forced vital capacity decline in systemic sclerosis-associated interstitial lung disease.

To investigate the potential contribution of accessory respiratory muscle atrophy to the decline of forced vital capacity (FVC) in patients with SSc-associated interstitial lung disease (ILD).This single-centre, retrospective study enrolled 36 patients with SSc-ILD who underwent serial pulmonary function tests and chest high-resolution CT (HRCT) simultaneously at an interval of 1-3 years. The total extent of ILD and chest wall muscle area at the level of the ninth thoracic vertebra on CT images were evaluated by two independent evaluators blinded to the patient information. Changes in the FVC, ILD extent, and chest wall muscle area between the two measurements were assessed in terms of their correlations. Multiple regression analysis was conducted to identify the independent contributors to FVC decline.Interval changes in FVC and total ILD extent were variable among patients, whereas chest wall muscle area decreased significantly with time (P=0.0008). The FVC change was negatively correlated with the change in ILD extent (r=-0.48, P=0.003) and was positively correlated with the change in the chest wall muscle area (r = 0.53, P=0.001). Multivariate analysis revealed that changes in total ILD extent and chest wall muscle area were independent contributors to FVC decline.In patients with SSc-ILD, FVC decline is attributable not only to the progression of ILD but also to the atrophy of accessory respiratory muscles. Our findings call attention to the interpretation of FVC changes in patients with SSc-ILD.

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