Scleritis in relapsing polychondritis. Response to therapy

Ophthalmology. 1990 Jul;97(7):892-8. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(90)32485-5.


The authors reviewed the records of 11 patients with relapsing polychondritis associated with active scleritis and analyzed the immunopathologic characteristics of ocular tissue from three of these. Seven patients (63%) required cytotoxic drugs, alone or in combination with low-dose oral corticosteroids. Only one patient was treated successfully with systemic corticosteroids alone. Two patients were controlled with dapsone and one with an oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Dapsone, which has been reported to be effective in the treatment of relapsing polychondritis, did not control the destructive scleral inflammation in six (75%) of eight patients; two (50%) of four patients with diffuse anterior scleritis were controlled with this drug. Patients with nodular and necrotizing scleritis were controlled with azathioprine and cyclophosphamide, respectively. These data suggest that the ocular manifestations of relapsing polychondritis, especially nodular and necrotizing scleritis, are less amenable to treatment with systemic corticosteroids and/or dapsone and that more potent immunosuppressants (azathioprine and cyclophosphamide) may be required to treat these lesions successfully. Results of histologic and immunofluorescent examination of conjunctival and/or scleral biopsy specimens from three patients confirmed the vasculitic nature of the eye lesions in this disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Azathioprine / therapeutic use*
  • Biopsy
  • Conjunctiva / pathology
  • Cyclophosphamide / therapeutic use*
  • Dapsone / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polychondritis, Relapsing / complications*
  • Polychondritis, Relapsing / drug therapy
  • Polychondritis, Relapsing / pathology
  • Sclera / pathology
  • Scleritis / drug therapy
  • Scleritis / etiology*
  • Scleritis / pathology


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Dapsone
  • Azathioprine