Indian Journal of Dermatology
  Publication of IADVL, WB
  Official organ of AADV
Indexed with Science Citation Index (E) , Web of Science and PubMed
Users online: 4446  
Home About  Editorial Board  Current Issue Archives Online Early Coming Soon Guidelines Subscriptions  e-Alerts    Login  
    Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size Print this page Email this page

Year : 2010  |  Volume : 55  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 304-305
Dexamethasone-cyclophosphamide pulse therapy in progressive systemic sclerosis

Department of Dermatology, Rajiv Gandhi Medical College and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital, Kalwa, Thane, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication25-Sep-2010

Correspondence Address:
Amey D Sonavane
Department of Dermatology, Rajiv Gandhi Medical College and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital, Kalwa, Thane, Maharashtra
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5154.70697

Rights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Viswanath V, Sonavane AD, Doshi AC, Parab MG. Dexamethasone-cyclophosphamide pulse therapy in progressive systemic sclerosis. Indian J Dermatol 2010;55:304-5

How to cite this URL:
Viswanath V, Sonavane AD, Doshi AC, Parab MG. Dexamethasone-cyclophosphamide pulse therapy in progressive systemic sclerosis. Indian J Dermatol [serial online] 2010 [cited 2022 Aug 17];55:304-5. Available from:


Progressive Systemic Sclerosis (PSS) is a multisystem disorder characterized by vascular abnormalities, connective tissue sclerosis, atrophy and the presence of autoantibodies that result in fibrosis and vascular abnormalities. [1] Symptomatic therapy is the mainstay and immunosuppressive therapies have shown encouraging results in halting disease progression. A pilot study was conducted to determine the efficacy of Dexamethasone-Cyclophosphamide Pulse therapy (DCP) without intermittent cyclophosphamide for a fixed duration of 12 months . The primary aim was to determine whether fewer and fixed number of pulses could arrest or potentially reverse disease progression (cutaneous and pulmonary symptoms).

Fourteen cases (13 females, one male) between 15 to 50 years, with both cutaneous and respiratory symptoms, fulfilling the ARA scleroderma criteria [1] were selected. Pregnant/lactating women were excluded and female patients were advised contraceptive precautions during therapy. Informed consent, detailed history, general and cutaneous examination of each patient was performed.

Median duration of disease was two years (range: eight months - six years). Cutaneous examination revealed Raynaud's phenomenon and skin tightening (all cases), sclerodactyly (five), hyperpigmentation (four), digital ulceration (three), telangiectasia and calcinosis cutis (two). Exertional dyspnoea (ten), joint involvement (four) and dysphagia (three) were also seen.

Complete hemogram, blood sugar, chest X-ray, liver and renal functions tests (LFTs and RFTs) were done. Specific investigations like pulmonary function tests (PFTs) {10 cases: severe combined restrictive-obstructive pattern (two), severe restrictive pattern (two), moderate restrictive pattern (two), mild restrictive pattern (three), normal PFT (one)}, ANA (five cases: two positive), dsDNA (five cases: two positive) were performed. Each patient received 100 mg dexamethasone in 500 ml, 5% dextrose over three hours for three consecutive days, along with 500 mg cyclophosphamide on the first day, once a month for 12 consecutive months. No intermittent cyclophosphamide or any other immunosuppressant was administered. Vasodilators (six cases) and penicillamine (two cases with severe skin tightening) were co-administered.

Subjective assessment by physicians and patients (grades: mild/moderate/severe) during follow-up showed improvement in Raynaud's phenomenon in three cases after the first pulse, six after the second and the rest after three pulses. Skin tightening showed improvement in nine cases within five pulses and the rest after eight pulses. Dyspnoea improved in eight of 10 cases within three pulses. Side effects like weight gain (six), backache (two), Cushingoid features (two) and urinary tract infections (seven cases - treated with appropriate antibiotics) were observed. Of the eight cases of repeat PFTs done at the end of therapy, six demonstrated modest improvement in FVC, FEV 1 and TLC values. There were no significant alterations in blood pressure (monitored monthly), laboratory parameters like routine hemogram and blood sugar (followed up after every pulse) and RFTs and LFTs (at 3, 6, 12 months).

Sole Dexamethasone pulse therapy (12 - 21 months duration) for PSS has been studied by Pasricha et al., Gupta and Ahmad et al. [2],[3],[4] wherein improvement in dyspnoea required 6 - 18 pulses as compared to three pulses in this study. A shorter duration therapy (six months) used by Sharada et al. induced a definite clinical improvement, though confined to the skin alone. [5] Airo et al. concluded that intravenous cyclophosphamide alone given for six months can achieve a significant improvement in PFTs in patients with active alveolitis. [6] Barbara et al. also recorded lung function improvement in 103 patients with alveolitis who received daily as well as pulse cyclophosphamide for 12-18 months. [7] A single pediatric patient studied by Vatwani et al. found eight DCPs without intermittent cyclophosphamide to be effective. [8]

Long term outcome and comparative studies are needed to determine the efficacy of therapy in PSS, but the slow progressive nature of disease makes it practically difficult. DCP (without intermittent cyclophosphamide), offers a regimen of fixed and fewer pulses leading to better patient compliance, decreased side effects and early reversal of the cutaneous and pulmonary complaints as compared to sole dexamethasone/cyclophosphamide pulse therapies.

   References Top

1.Goodfield MJD, Jones SK, Veale DJ. Systemic Sclerosis. In: Burns T, Breathnach S, Cox N, Griffiths C, editors. Rook's Textbook of Dermatology. 7th ed. Oxford, Blackwell Scientific Publications 2004. p. 91-116.  Back to cited text no. 1      
2.Pasricha JS, Ramam M, Shah S. Reversal of systemic sclerosis with dexamethasone pulses. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 1990;56:40-2.  Back to cited text no. 2    Medknow Journal  
3.Gupta R. Systemic sclerosis treated with dexamethasone pulse. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2003;69:191-2.  Back to cited text no. 3  [PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
4.Ahmad QM, Hassan I, Majid I. Evaluation of dexamethasone pulse therapy in systemic sclerosis. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2003;69:76-8.  Back to cited text no. 4  [PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
5.Sharada B, Kumar A, Kakker R, Adya CM, Pande I, Uppal SS, et al. Intravenous dexamethasone pulse therapy in diffuse systemic sclerosis. A randomized placebo-controlled study. Rheumatol Int 1994;14:91-4.  Back to cited text no. 5      
6.Airς P, Danieli E, Parrinello G, Antonioli CM, Cavazzana I, Toniati P, et al. Intravenous cyclophosphamide therapy for systemic sclerosis. A single-center experience and review of the literature with pooled analysis of lung function test results. Clin Exp Rheumatol 2004;22:573-8.  Back to cited text no. 6      
7.White B, Moore WC, Wigley FM, Xiao HQ, Wise RA. Cyclophosphamide is associated with pulmonary function and survival benefit in patients with scleroderma and alveolitis. Ann Intern Med 2000;132:947-54.  Back to cited text no. 7      
8.Vatwani V, Palta SC, Verma N, Pathak PR, Singh RP. Pulse therapy in scleroderma. Indian Pediatr 1994;31:993-5.  Back to cited text no. 8      

This article has been cited by
1 Randomized double-blind study of the effect of dexamethasone and methylprednisolone pulse in the control of rheumatoid arthritis flare-up: a preliminary study
Vahideh Sadra,Alireza Khabbazi,Susan Kolahi,Mehrzad Hajialiloo,Morteza Ghojazadeh
International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases. 2014; : n/a
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Systemic sclerosis: Current concepts in pathogenesis and therapeutic aspects of dermatological manifestations
Viswanath, V., Phiske, M.M., Gopalani, V.V.
Indian Journal of Dermatology. 2013; 58(4): 255-268


Print this article  Email this article
   Next article
   Previous article 
   Table of Contents
    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Article in PDF (275 KB)
    Citation Manager
    Access Statistics
    Reader Comments
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  


 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded181    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 2    

Recommend this journal