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, 23 (4), 306-9

Experience With Azathioprine in Systemic Sclerosis Associated With Interstitial Lung Disease


Experience With Azathioprine in Systemic Sclerosis Associated With Interstitial Lung Disease

K Dheda et al. Clin Rheumatol.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of azathioprine in the treatment of interstitial lung disease (ILD) associated with systemic sclerosis (SSc). The records of patients with SSc with ILD who were treated with azathioprine were reviewed. Patients were treated with azathioprine and low-dose prednisone if they had progressive pulmonary symptoms (deterioration in the dyspnea score) or poor or deteriorating lung function. Response was classified as improved if the FVC increased more than 10% from baseline, and stable if it remained within 10% of baseline. Serial dyspnea scores were recorded. Eleven patients were treated with azathioprine, three of whom received treatment for 6 months or less owing to adverse effects (nausea, leukopenia and pulmonary tuberculosis in one patient each). The remaining eight patients received at least 12 months' treatment and the results suggested an improvement in the mean percent predicted FVC from a baseline value of 54.25+/-3.53 to 63.38+/-6.15 after 12 months ( p=0.101). Overall, five patients improved and three remained stable. The mean dyspnea score ( n=8) improved from a baseline of 1.55+/-0.19 to 0.50+/-0.19 at 12 months ( p=0.011). This is the first case series of patients with SSc-associated ILD treated with azathioprine. Our results suggest that azathioprine may have a role in stabilizing lung function and improving symptoms in SSc, although this needs confirmation by a randomized controlled trial.

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