Aim: Currently, therapy for interstitial lung disease in patients with systemic sclerosis is unsatisfactory. A prospective open label study was conducted in a North Indian tertiary Institute to assess the efficacy of intermittent pulse cyclophosphamide (CYC) and high-dose prednisolone in systemic sclerosis (SSc)-related interstitial lung disease (ILD).
Methods: Consecutive patients with SSc and ILD, diagnosed on spirometry, carbon monoxide diffusing capacity (DLCO) and high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scan were treated. Pulmonary function tests were carried out at baseline and after 6 months. Patients received oral prednisolone 1 mg/kg body weight initially, with tapering to a dose of 7.5 mg/day was reached. Monthly CYC pulses were given for 6 months followed by 3-monthly maintenance pulses. CYC was discontinued in patients with declining pulmonary function, adverse effects or static disease after 6 months.
Results: Average disease duration of 36 patients was 59.78 +/- 63.22 months. Seven patients improved (forced vital capacity [FVC] increase 10% or DLCO increase 15%), five deteriorated (FVC decline 10% or DLCO decline 15%) and 24 had stable disease. Thus, 31 out of 36 patients either improved or had static lung disease. Mean FVC (% of predicted) improved by 4.16% over 6 months (P = 0.069). Mean DLCO (% of predicted) improved by 5.66% (P = 0.27). Average % of predicted DLCO at baseline was 39%.
Conclusion: High-dose prednisolone with pulse CYC can either improve or stabilize lung functions in patients with severe systemic sclerosis lung disease irrespective of presence of ground glass appearance on HRCT.