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International Journal of Rheumatology
Volume 2011, Article ID 392542, 5 pages
Review Article

PDE-5 Inhibitors in Scleroderma Raynaud Phenomenon and Digital Ulcers: Current Status of Clinical Trials

University of Michigan Scleroderma Program, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-5753, USA

Received 2 June 2011; Accepted 2 August 2011

Academic Editor: Eswar Krishnan

Copyright © 2011 Ann J. Impens et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Systemic sclerosis- (SSc-) related vasculopathy, as manifested by Raynaud's Phenomenon (RP) and digital ulcers (DUs), is associated with significant impairment of the quality of life and morbidity. The current vasoactive approach for SSc-RP, although employing vasodilators, is entirely off-label. PDE-5 inhibitors improve peripheral circulation, are well tolerated, and are widely used for various forms of constrictive vasculopathies. This class of medications has become one of the first lines of treatment of SSc-RP and SSc-DUs among rheumatologists that routinely treat SSc patients. Due to the lack of robust randomized clinical trials of PDE-5 inhibitors in SSc-RP/DUs, the PDE-5 inhibitors have not been FDA approved for these particular indications, which constitutes a significant barrier to prescribing this category of drugs. This paper reviews the current state of evidence-based knowledge in SSc-related vasculopathy and the use of PDE-5 inhibitors.