D-Penicillamine therapy in progressive systemic sclerosis (scleroderma): a retrospective analysis

Ann Intern Med. 1982 Nov;97(5):652-9. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-97-5-652.


In a retrospective study on progressive systemic sclerosis, we compared 73 patients who had received D-penicillamine therapy for a minimum of 6 consecutive months with 45 patients who had not received this drug. All patients had diffuse sclerodermatous skin changes and early disease (less than 3-years duration). D-Penicillamine was prescribed for an average of 24 months (range, 6 to 68 months) with a maximum daily dose of 500 to 1500 mg (median, 750 mg). During a mean follow-up interval of 38 months, the degree and extent of skin thickness, determined on physical examination, decreased considerably more in the patients treated with D-penicillamine than in patients in the comparison group (p = 0.07). The rate of new visceral organ involvement was reduced in patients treated with D-penicillamine, especially for the kidney (p = 0.01). Patients treated with D-penicillamine had a greater 5-year cumulative survival rate (88% versus 66%, p less than 0.05). Therapy with colchicine (23 patients) or immunosuppressive agents (26 patients) was not associated with these improvements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Contracture / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Penicillamine / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / drug therapy*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / pathology
  • Skin / pathology


  • Penicillamine