Racial Disparities in Systemic Sclerosis: Short- and Long-Term Outcomes Among African American Participants of SLS I and II

ACR Open Rheumatol. 2021 Jan;3(1):8-16. doi: 10.1002/acr2.11206. Epub 2020 Dec 5.


Objective: To evaluate short- and long-term outcomes of African American (AA) participants of Scleroderma Lung Studies (SLS) I and II.

Methods: SLS I randomized 158 participants with systemic sclerosis-interstitial lung disease (SSc-ILD) to 1 year of oral cyclophosphamide (CYC) versus placebo. SLS II randomized 142 participants with SSc-ILD to 1 year of oral CYC followed by 1 year of placebo versus 2 years of mycophenolate (MMF). Joint models compared the course of forced vital capacity (FVC) and diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO) between AA and non-AA, and Cox proportional hazard models assessed long-term morbidity and mortality outcomes.

Results: In SLS I, there was no difference in the course of the FVC or DLCO between AA and non-AA in either treatment arm. In SLS II, AA had an improved course of the FVC compared with non-AA in the CYC arm; in the MMF arm, there was no difference in FVC course. There was no difference in DLCO course in either arm. Time to death and respiratory failure were similar for AA and non-AA in SLS I. There was a trend for improved survival and time to respiratory failure in AA compared with non-AA in SLS II. AA race was not independently associated with mortality in the SLS I or II in the Cox models.

Conclusion: Data from two randomized controlled trials demonstrated that AA patients with SSc-ILD have similar morbidity and mortality outcomes compared with non-AA patients. These findings contrast with the racial disparities described in prior observational studies and warrant further investigation.