Impact of COVID-19 outbreak in an Italian cohort of patients with systemic sclerosis

Nicoletta Del Papa, Gianluca Sambataro, Antonina Minniti, Wanda Maglione, Francesca Pignataro, Antonella Caminati, Sergio Harari, Domenico Sambataro, Claudio Vitali, Roberto Felice Caporali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Mortality rate in patients infected by severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) can be related to the presence of comorbidities like diabetes, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. On the contrary, few data exist on the impact of CoronaVirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on patients with rheumatic disorders, namely in those having pulmonary involvement and treated with immunosuppressive agents. The present survey is aimed at knowing the impact of COVID-19 in a cohort of patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). Methods: Telephone interviews were carried out during the COVID-19 outbreak in patients with SSc followed in a Rheumatic Disease Unit in Italy. Patients were asked for confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, and modification of their therapy. Results: A total number of 526 patients with SSc were contacted and interviewed. Of them, 270 and 256 had limited cutaneous and diffuse cutaneous SSc, respectively. Interstitial lung disease (ILD) was present in 45% of patients and most of them (68.2%) were treated with immunosuppressive therapy. Only two patients were hospitalized for COVID-19-related pneumonia, and one of them died despite invasive ventilator support. An additional 11 patients reported flu-like symptoms compatible with a mild form of COVID-19. Nobody modified the therapy during the COVID-19 outbreak. Conclusion: Despite the large prevalence of ILD and immunosuppressive therapies, which can be considered risk factors for the occurrence and severity of incidental viral infections, the impact of COVID-19, in terms of mortality rate and morbidity, does not appear particularly severe in this large cohort of patients with SSc. Possible mechanisms influencing this figure are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • coronavirus
  • interstitial lung disease
  • mortality
  • outbreak
  • SARS 2
  • systemic sclerosis
  • viral infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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