Considerations for a combined index for limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis to support drug development and improve outcomes

Alain Lescoat, Susan L. Murphy, David Roofeh, John D. Pauling, Michael Hughes, Robert Sandler, François Zimmermann, Rachel Wessel, Whitney Townsend, Lorinda Chung, Christopher P. Denton, Peter A. Merkel, Virginia Steen, Yannick Allanore, Francesco Del Galdo, Dominique Godard, David Cella, Sue Farrington, Maya H. Buch, Dinesh Khanna*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Systemic sclerosis (systemic scleroderma) is characterized by a heterogeneous range of clinical manifestations. Systemic sclerosis is classified into limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis and diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis subgroups based on the extent of skin involvement. Randomized controlled trials in scleroderma have mainly focused on diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis partly because the measurement of skin involvement, critical for evaluating a therapeutic intervention, is more dynamic in this subset. Nonetheless, limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis, the most common cutaneous subset (about two-third), is also associated with significant morbidity and detrimental impact on health-related quality of life. The lack of interventional studies in limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis is partly due to a lack of relevant outcome measures to evaluate this subgroup. Combining several clinically meaningful outcomes selected specifically for limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis may improve representativeness in clinical trials and responsiveness of outcomes measured in randomized controlled trials. A composite index dedicated to limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis combining such relevant outcomes could advance clinical trial development for limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis by providing the opportunity to test and select among candidate drugs that could act as disease-modifying treatments for this neglected subgroup of systemic sclerosis. This proposed index would include items selected by expert physicians and patients with limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis across domains grounded in the lived experience of limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis. This article reviews the reasons behind the relative neglect of limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis, discusses the current state of outcome measures for limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis, identifies challenges, and proposes a roadmap for a combined limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis-specific treatment response index.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Scleroderma and Related Disorders
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Systemic sclerosis
  • classifications
  • combined response index
  • composite score
  • limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis
  • quality of life
  • scleroderma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology


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