Is occupational organic solvent exposure a risk factor for scleroderma?

Arthritis Rheum. 1998 Jun;41(6):1111-8. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(199806)41:6<1111::AID-ART19>3.0.CO;2-J.


Objective: The primary objective was to determine whether occupational exposure to organic solvents is related to an increased risk of systemic sclerosis (SSc; scleroderma).

Methods: Occupational histories were obtained from 178 SSc patients and 200 controls. Exposure scores were computed for each individual using job exposure matrices, which were validated by an industrial expert.

Results: Among men, those with SSc were more likely than controls to have a high cumulative intensity score (odds ratio [OR] 2.9, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.1-7.6) and a high maximum intensity score (OR 2.9, 95% CI 1.2-7.1) for any solvent exposure. They were also more likely than controls to have a high maximum intensity score for trichloroethylene exposure (OR 3.3, 95% CI 1.0-10.3). Among men and women, significant solvent-disease associations were observed among SSc patients who tested positive for the anti-Scl-70 autoantibody; these trends were not observed among the men and women who tested negative for anti-Scl-70.

Conclusion: These results provide evidence that occupational solvent exposure may be associated with an increased risk of SSc.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies / analysis
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type I
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nuclear Proteins / immunology
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Organic Chemicals / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / chemically induced*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / physiopathology
  • Solvents / adverse effects*
  • Trichloroethylene / adverse effects


  • Antibodies
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Scl 70 antigen, human
  • Solvents
  • Trichloroethylene
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type I