Objective: To determine the relative contributions of genetic, clinical, serologic, sociodemographic, and behavioral/psychological variables to early pulmonary involvement in the Genetics versus Environment in Scleroderma Outcome Study cohort.
Methods: At the baseline visit (V0), 203 patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) were examined (104 whites, 39 African Americans, and 60 Hispanics). We obtained sociodemographic, behavioral/psychological (illness behavior, social support, learned helplessness, smoking, drinking), clinical, serologic (autoantibodies), and genetic (HLA class II and FBN1 genotypes) factors; pulmonary function test results; electrocardiograms; and chest radiographs. Data analysis included Fisher's exact test, chi-square test, Student's t-test, analysis of variance, and stepwise linear and logistic regression methods.
Results: Significant pulmonary involvement was seen in 25% of patients within 2.8 years of SSc diagnosis. At V0, pulmonary fibrosis was significantly higher in African Americans compared with whites or Hispanics. African Americans had significantly lower percent predicted forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV(1)) compared with whites and significantly lower percent predicted diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO) compared with whites and Hispanics. Significant, independent associations impacting early pulmonary involvement included African American ethnicity, skin score, serum creatinine and creatine phosphokinase values, hypothyroidism, and cardiac involvement. Anticentromere antibody seropositivity was a significant, independent, protective factor for restrictive lung disease and FVC or DLCO values. African Americans had significantly increased frequencies of anti-topoisomerase I, fibrillarin, and RNP autoantibodies compared with whites. African Americans scored significantly lower on the Interpersonal Support Evaluation List and significantly higher on the Illness Behavior Questionnaire.
Conclusion: Early pulmonary involvement in SSc appears to be influenced by several factors delineated by ethnicity, including racial, socioeconomic, behavioral, and serologic determinants.