Objective: This retrospective observational study attempted to determine whether any of the therapies used in the management of systemic sclerosis (SSc) patients held potential benefit for patients with interstitial lung disease.
Methods: All patients with SSc who had a pulmonary function test (PFT) showing a forced vital capacity (FVC) of < 70% predicted and an additional PFT at least 4 months later were grouped according to the treatment they received. Changes in pulmonary function were analyzed by the mean percent predicted FVC from the initial and the final test, and by the rate of percent change in FVC (ml/year) in the first 2 years after therapy. Bronchoalveolar lavage was performed in a subset of these patients.
Results: Of 363 SSc patients who had an FVC < 70% predicted, 122 had a second PFT and fulfilled the criteria for one of the following drug groups: high-dose prednisone (n = 21), immunosuppressive other than cyclophosphamide (CYC) (n = 16), CYC (n = 14), D-penicillamine (n = 37), or no drug (n = 34). In both analyses, the CYC-treated group showed significantly more improvement in FVC than did the other groups. Patients with early disease had the greatest likelihood of responding to any drug.
Conclusion: This retrospective study shows that patients treated with CYC had a significant improvement in FVC over time. Prospective controlled studies of CYC treatment in early disease are necessary to determine if it can significantly alter the natural history of interstitial lung disease.