Therapeutic options for systemic sclerosis related interstitial lung diseases.Respir Med. 2010 Jul; 104 Suppl 1:S59-69.RM
Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a common manifestation of systemic sclerosis (SSc) mainly encountered in patients with diffuse disease. Unlike idiopathic interstitial pneumonias (IIP), SSc associated ILD corresponds to non-specific interstitial pneumonia (NSIP) in most cases, whereas usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) is encountered less frequently. This explains the better prognosis of SSc associated ILD compared to IIP. However, severe restrictive lung disease represents one of the two main causes of disease-related death in SSc patients. The treatment of SSc associated ILD is not very well established. Anti-fibrosing treatments have failed to demonstrate any benefit and cyclophosphamide, which has been used in the treatment of this condition for about 15 years, has recently been evaluated in two prospective randomised studies which showed a significant but modest effect on respiratory function. Since none of the patients included in retrospective or prospective studies were selected on the basis of progression of ILD, and since only a minority of SSc patients develop severe ILD, further studies should focus on the subgroup of SSc patients with worsening ILD. A subgroup of patients with rapidly progressive ILD might benefit from pulsed intravenous cyclophosphamide combined with prednisone 15 mg daily but this remains to be confirmed.