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Effects of Longterm Treatment with Bosentan and Iloprost on Nailfold Absolute Capillary Number, Fingertip Blood Perfusion, and Clinical Status in Systemic Sclerosis.

OBJECTIVE: To quantify in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) the absolute nailfold capillary number/mm (the absolute number of capillaries, observable in the first row, in 1 mm per field) and fingertip blood perfusion (FBP) during longterm therapy with the endothelin receptor antagonist bosentan (BOSE) and the synthetic analog of prostacyclin PGI2 iloprost (ILO) by multiple diagnostic tools. Observed values were correlated with clinical outcomes.

METHODS: Thirty patients with SSc already receiving intravenous ILO (80 μg/day) for 5 continuous days (every 3 mos) were recruited in the clinic. Fifteen patients continued such treatment (ILO group), while in 15 patients BOSE (125 mg twice/day) was added (ILO + BOSE group) because of the onset of pulmonary arterial hypertension or digital ulcers (DU). The followup period was 4 years (T0-T4). Every year the following were evaluated: absolute nailfold capillary number/mm by nailfold videocapillaroscopy, FBP by laser Doppler flowmetry, DU incidence, DLCO, systolic pulmonary arterial pressure (sPAP), renal arterial resistive index, and other biomarkers. From T2 to T4, laser speckled contrast analysis was added. Nonparametric tests were used for statistical analysis.

RESULTS: Limited to the ILO + BOSE group, absolute capillary number/mm and FBP showed a progressive increase independently from other variables. In addition, during followup there was a significant reduction (80%) in the incidence of new DU, whereas DLCO and sPAP did not worsen.

CONCLUSION: The study shows in patients with SSc with up to 4 years of combined therapy a progressive significant recovery in structure and function of microvasculature linked to improved clinical outcomes, independent of disease severity.

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