Alteration of Collagen in Generalized Scleroderma (Progressive Systemic Sclerosis) After Treatment With Dimethyl Sulfoxide

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DIMETHYL SULFOXIDE is a versatile commercially available solvent possessing many chemical properties that have industrial value. It can reduce the freezing point of water, moisten and disperse particles, and form complexes with many inorganic salts. Lovelock and Bishop1 reported that dimethyl sulfoxide prevented damage to living cells and tissues, during low-temperature preservation, by preventing formation of water crystals and by reducing the concentration of intracellular salt. Dimethyl sulfoxide has been used to preserve red blood cells, white blood cells, bone marrow, bovine spermatozoa, and whole organs before transplantation, by low temperature or freezing technics.2–6 Numerous observations on the clinical effects of dimethyl sulfoxide have been reported by Jacob, Bischel, and Herschler7 and by Rosenbaum and Jacob.8 Toxicity reactions have not been significant in more than 1000 patients who have received dimethyl sulfoxide.9 In our experience, the most dramatic and consistent effect resulting from the topical application of this chemical is relief of pain resulting from musculoskeletal trauma, acute bursitis, tendinitis, or myalgia. Less dramatic relief of pain and stiffness has occurred in patients with osteoarthritis; and variable relief of pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints has occurred in patients with rheumatoid disease. In April, 1964, we began a study of the effect of dimethyl sulfoxide on the ischemic ulcers and cutaneous manifestations in 10 patients who have generalized scleroderma (progressive systemic sclerosis).


Of the 10 patients with scleroderma, six were treated primarily for multiple ischemic ulcerations of fingertips, and four patients were treated for cutaneous manifestations. Skin . . .



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