Comparison between iloprost and alprostadil in the treatment of Raynaud's phenomenon

Scand J Rheumatol. 2004;33(4):253-6. doi: 10.1080/03009740310004711.


Objective: The prostanoids iloprost and alprostadil are widely used to treat ischaemic changes in patients with Raynaud's phenomenon (RP), but the optimal regimen is poorly defined. We evaluated whether there are differences between iloprost and alprostadil, in terms of either clinical efficacy or of laboratory data, with the aim of assisting in the treatment of connective tissue disease (CTD)-associated RP.

Methods: Twenty-one women with CTD-associated RP were given intravenous iloprost (11 patients) or alprostadil (10 patients) cyclically (5 consecutive days, followed by 1 day every 30 days). Clinical efficacy (RP symptoms, skin score, digital ulcers) and circulating levels of von Willebrand factor (VWf), tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), thrombomodulin (TM) and Type III procollagen N-terminal propeptide (PIIINP) were evaluated by enzyme-linked immunoassay at different intervals.

Results: The overall benefits of iloprost and alprostadil were similar. RP improved in 45% versus 90% of patients; ulcers in 60% versus 40% of patients (iloprost versus alprostadil). Skin score did not significantly change with either drug. Circulating VWf decreased with either drug (iloprost -6.2%, alprostadil -9.4%), while tPA, TM, and PIIINP remained unchanged. Side effects were only minor and less frequent with alprostadil.

Conclusion: Iloprost and alprostadil were both of benefit in CTD-associated RP, without significant differences in either clinical efficacy or circulating markers. However, ease of handling and the lower price favours alprostadil.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alprostadil / administration & dosage
  • Alprostadil / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Connective Tissue Diseases / complications
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iloprost / administration & dosage
  • Iloprost / therapeutic use*
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Middle Aged
  • Raynaud Disease / drug therapy*
  • Raynaud Disease / etiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vasodilator Agents / administration & dosage
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Biomarkers
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Alprostadil
  • Iloprost