A research has pointed out that tadalafil when added to the treatment of people with scleroderma can alleviate symptoms of Raynaud's phenomenon. It can also effectively heal and prevent hand and finger ulcers.
Scleroderma is a rheumatic disease that results in the thickening and tightening of skin, as well as a build-up of scar tissue and damage to internal organs.
Most patients with scleroderma also suffer from Raynaud's phenomenon - structural damage of the blood vessels that cause them to react abnormally to the cold. Raynaud's phenomenon is commonly marked by discoloration of the hands, fingers and toes.
Researchers studied 53 patients-of which 50 were women-whose average age was almost 37 years and who had suffered from scleroderma, on average, for almost six years. Twenty-six of the participants had limited scleroderma (which only occurs in the forearms, hands, legs, feet and face) and 27 had diffuse scleroderma (which can affect almost any area of the body).
Researchers noticed that improvement in the tadalafil group was significantly better than in the placebo group. At the beginning of the study, 18 patients in the tadalafil group had ulcers as compared to 13 patients in the placebo group.
Following treatment with tadalafil, 14 out of 18 of those patients healed completely as compared to five out of 13 patients in the placebo group. Further results revealed that new ulcers appeared in only one patient in the tadalafil group as compared to nine patients in the placebo group.
Additionally, other symptoms such as dyspnea (difficulty breathing), Raynaud's phenomenon and digital ulcers were greatly improved in those taking tadalafil. Finally, researchers noted that side effects were similar in both groups and no serious side effects were observed.
"Tadalafil, in combination with other vasodilators, not only improves the number, duration and severity of Raynaud's attacks, but also heals the existing digital ulcers as compared to placebo," explained Vikas Agarwal,associate professor of clinical immunology at the Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences and lead investigator in the study.
"In addition to preventing the development of new digital ulcers, tadalafil in combination with other vasodilators marks the beginning of new phase of oral therapeutic options available for severe scleroderma."
The research has been presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Atlanta.