Relationship between quantitative radiographic assessments of interstitial lung disease and physiological and clinical features of systemic sclerosis

Ann Rheum Dis. 2016 Feb;75(2):374-81. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2014-206076. Epub 2014 Dec 1.


Objectives: Extent of systemic sclerosis (SSc)-related interstitial lung disease (ILD) assessed from thoracic high-resolution CT (HRCT) predicts disease course, mortality and treatment response. While quantitative HRCT analyses of extent of lung fibrosis (QLFib) or total interstitial lung disease (QILD) are more sensitive and reproducible than visual HRCT assessments of SSc-ILD, these analyses are not widely available. This study evaluates the relationship between clinical disease parameters and QLFib and QILD scores to identify potential surrogate measures of radiographic extent of ILD.

Methods: Using baseline data from the Scleroderma Lung Study I (SLS I; N=158), multivariate regression analyses were performed using the best subset selection method to identify one to five variable models that best correlated with QLFib and QILD scores in both whole lung (WL) and the zone of maximal involvement (ZM). These models were subsequently validated using baseline data from SLS II (N=142). Bivariate analyses of the radiographic and clinical variables were also performed using pooled data. SLS I and II did not include patients with clinically significant pulmonary hypertension (PH).

Results: Diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO) was the single best predictor of both QLF and QILD in the WL and ZM in all of the best subset models. Adding other disease parameters to the models did not substantially improve model performance. Forced vital capacity (FVC) did not predict QLF or QILD scores in any of the models.

Conclusions: In the absence of PH, DLCO provides the best overall estimate of HRCT-measured lung disease in patients from two large SSc cohorts. FVC, although commonly used, may not be the best surrogate measure of extent of SSc-ILD at any point in time.

Trial registration numbers: SLS I: NCT 00000-4563; SLS II: NCT 00883129.

Trial registration: NCT00004563 NCT00883129.

Keywords: Pulmonary Fibrosis; Systemic Sclerosis; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / etiology
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pulmonary Diffusing Capacity*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / etiology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Radiography, Thoracic / methods
  • Radiography, Thoracic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / complications
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / mortality
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / physiopathology*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / statistics & numerical data*
  • Vital Capacity


  • Carbon Monoxide

Associated data