Tocilizumab Proves Stabilizing in SSc Study

In a recent study independent of quantitative radiographic analysis of interstitial lung disease or fibrosis, tocilizumab successfully stabilized forced vital capacity (FVC) over 48 weeks in patients with early systemic sclerosis (SSc)-associated interstitial lung disease. These patients also had progressive skin disease.

“Tocilizumab has demonstrated lung function preservation in two randomized controlled trials in early SSc. This effect has yet to be characterized in terms of quantitative radiographic lung involvement. In this post‐hoc analysis, we assess tocilizumab’s impact on lung function preservation, stratifying treatment arms by the degree of radiographic lung involvement,” the authors reported.

Researchers conducted a phase 3, randomized placebo-controlled trial (focuSSced trial) in 210 patients with SSc and progressive skin disease. Of the 210 participants, 136 (65%) presented interstitial lung disease. The majority (77%) of the participants with interstitial lung disease had moderate‐to‐severe involvement (defined by >10% lung involvement).

“Quantitative interstitial lung disease and fibrosis were derived using computer software. We divided quantitative interstitial lung disease in mild (5‐10%), moderate (>10‐20%), or severe (>20%) categories,” the authors reported.

Baseline and serial spirometry and high-resolution chest CT were performed at baseline and week 48 of the trial for all the participants.

“The tocilizumab arm demonstrated preservation of forced vital capacity over 48 weeks (least squared mean change in %predicted = ‐0.1) compared to placebo (‐6.3%). For mild, moderate, and severe QILD, the mean decline in the %pFVC in the tocilizumab arm at 48 weeks were ‐4.1, 0.7, and 2.1, and in the placebo group were ‐10.0, ‐5.7, and ‐6.7, respectively. Similar treatment‐related preservation findings were seen independent of fibrosis severity,” the authors concluded.


--Angelique Platas



Roofeh D, Lin CLF, Goldin J, et al. Tocilizumab Prevents Progression of Early Systemic Sclerosis Associated Interstitial Lung Disease. Arthritis & Rheum. Published online February 3, 2021.