Current Treatment Options in Rheumatology

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 127–146 | Cite as

Interstitial Lung Disease in Systemic Sclerosis: Lessons Learned from Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

  • Augustine Chung
  • James English
  • Elizabeth R. VolkmannEmail author
Scleroderma (C Denton, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Scleroderma


Purpose of review

Systemic sclerosis (SSc) has the highest cause–specific mortality of all the connective tissue diseases, and interstitial lung disease (ILD) is the number one cause of death among patients with SSc.

Recent findings

Historically, therapeutic agents with widespread immunosuppressive effects have been used to treat SSc-ILD. However, data from recent landmark clinical trials in SSc-ILD have affirmed the prior observation that SSc-ILD is a uniquely heterogenous disease with marked variations in rates of response to immunosuppressive therapy. In the last few years, innovative research studies have advanced our understanding of the pathophysiology of SSc-ILD and stimulated interest in the development of novel candidate therapeutics with potential disease–modifying properties for SSc-ILD. Anti-fibrotics are a new class of drugs that may change our approach to the treatment of SSc-ILD similar to the paradigm shift that occurred for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The present review describes the most recent advances in our understanding of SSc-ILD in the context of lessons learned from the study of IPF.


The article concludes with an outline of the most important unanswered questions in SSc-ILD research that could help inform future research efforts in this area.


Systemic sclerosis Interstitial lung disease Treatment Immunosuppression Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis 



The author, ERV, received financial support from the Rheumatology Research Foundation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Augustine Chung and James English declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Dr. Volkmann reports personal fees from Boehringer Ingelheim, during the conduct of the study.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Augustine Chung
    • 1
  • James English
    • 1
  • Elizabeth R. Volkmann
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of MedicineUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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