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Bosentan treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension related to connective tissue disease: a subgroup analysis of the pivotal clinical trials and their open-label extensions
  1. C P Denton1,
  2. M Humbert2,
  3. L Rubin3,
  4. C M Black1
  1. 1Centre for Rheumatology, Royal Free Hospital, London, UK
  2. 2Hopital Béclère, Clamart, France
  3. 3Pulmonary Vascular Center, San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
    C P Denton
    Centre for Rheumatology, Royal Free Hospital, Pond Street, London, NW3 2QG, UK;c.denton{at}


Background: Endothelin-1 is considered to be a central pathogenic factor in connective tissue diseases (CTDs) such as systemic sclerosis (SSc), leading to vasoconstriction, fibrosis, hypertrophy and inflammation. A frequent complication of CTD is pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), which has a major effect on functioning and quality of life, and is associated with a particularly poor prognosis.

Objective: To present a subgroup analysis that summarises experiences from the pivotal studies and their open-label extensions with the oral dual endothelin-1 receptor antagonist bosentan in patients with PAH and CTD, mostly SSc and lupus erythematosus.

Methods: 66 patients with PAH secondary to CTD, in World Health Organization functional class III or IV, were randomised to two double-blind, placebo-controlled studies and followed up for 12 and 16 weeks, respectively. The primary end point was change in exercise capacity, assessed using the 6-min walk test. In both studies and their extensions, survival was assessed from start of treatment to death or data cut-off and analysed as Kaplan–Meier estimates.

Results: 44 patients with PAH secondary to CTD who were treated with bosentan were stable in 6-min walk distance at the end of the study (+19.5 m, 95% confidence interval (CI) −3.2 to 42.2), whereas patients treated with placebo deteriorated (−2.6 m, 95% CI −54.0 to 48.7). 64 patients subsequently received bosentan in an open-label long-term extension study. Mean (standard deviation (SD)) exposure to bosentan was 1.6 (0.9) years, and duration of observation was 1.8 (0.8) years. 8 (16%) patients received epoprostenol as add-on treatment and 7 (14%) after discontinuation of bosentan. Survival in those receiving bosentan was 85.9% after 1 year and 73.4% after 2 years.

Conclusion: Short-term bosentan treatment in a subgroup of patients with PAH secondary to CTD seems to have a favourable effect compared with placebo. The long-term follow-up of these patients suggests that first-line bosentan, with the subsequent addition of other PAH treatments if required, is safe for long-term treatment and may have a positive effect on outcome.

  • CTD, connective tissue disease
  • 6MWD, 6-min walk test distance
  • PAH, pulmonary arterial hypertension
  • SSc, systemic sclerosis
  • WHO, World Health Organization

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  • Published Online First 22 June 2006

  • This study was supported by a grant from Actelion Pharmaceuticals, Allschwil, Switzerland.

  • Competing interests: None declared.

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