Treatment for systemic sclerosis-associated interstitial lung disease

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2021 May 1;33(3):240-248. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0000000000000795.


Purpose of review: This review provides an overview of the current treatments for systemic sclerosis-interstitial lung disease (SSc-ILD) and proposes a conceptual framework for disease management with case scenarios.

Recent findings: Broad treatment categories include traditional cytotoxic therapies, biologic disease-modifying rheumatic drugs, antifibrotic agents, autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant, and lung transplantation. The optimal use of each option varies depending on SSc-ILD severity, progression, and comorbidities of individual patients. A high-quality randomized controlled trial demonstrated nintedanib's ability to retard decline of lung function in patients with limited and diffuse cutaneous disease, with established ILD. Tocilizumab, recently approved by the FDA, provides a unique intervention in those with early SSc associated with ILD with elevated acute-phase reactants: two well designed trials showed lung function preservation in phase 2 and phase 3 trials.

Summary: Stratifying patients based on key SSc-ILD characteristics (e.g. severity, risk of progression, comorbid disease presentation) may provide a useful guide for practitioners treating SSc-ILD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / etiology
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Scleroderma, Systemic* / complications