Low occurrence of digital ulcers in scleroderma patients treated with bosentan for pulmonary arterial hypertension: a retrospective case-control study.Clin Rheumatol. 2013 May; 32(5):679-83.CR
Digital ulcers (DU) are one of the most common and debilitating manifestations of vasculopathy in systemic sclerosis (SSc). Their prevention is important in order to improve patients' outcome and as a result of the economic impact they have on society. Randomised controlled studies have demonstrated that bosentan, an endothelin receptor antagonist, reduces the appearance of new DU. The aim of this retrospective study was to evaluate the occurrence of DU in a group of patients receiving long-term bosentan treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension associated with SSc (PAH-SSc). Patients with PAH-SSc and treated with bosentan for at least 6 months (n = 30) were evaluated. Thirty patients with SSc not treated with bosentan, but matched for sex, age, disease duration and cutaneous form of SSc, were considered as a control group. The occurrence of DU, defined as loss of tissue of varying degrees in the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue, was determined in the bosentan-treated and untreated groups. Mean duration of bosentan treatment was 3.6 years. DU were detected in six patients in the bosentan-treated group (20.0 %) and 16 patients (53.3 %) in the untreated group (p = 0.0015). There were no significant differences in demographic or clinical characteristics between patients with or without DU at study end. The occurrence of DU in patients with PAH-SSc receiving long-term bosentan treatment was significantly lower than in untreated patients. The results from this long-term observational study provide valuable information on management of patients with PAH-SSc.