Objective: To determine the serum levels and clinical correlation of connective tissue growth factors (CTGF) in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc).
Methods: Serum samples from patients with limited cutaneous SSc (lSSc, n = 32), diffuse cutaneous SSc (dSSc, n = 28), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, n = 30), polymyositis/dermatomyositis (PM/DM, n = 20), and healthy control subjects (n = 30) were examined by ELISA for detection of CTGF.
Results: Serum CTGF levels in patients with SSc were significantly higher than those in patients with SLE or PM/DM, and in controls. CTGF levels in patients with dSSc were significantly higher than those in patients with lSSc. As for clinical correlation of CTGF, SSc patients with elevated CTGF had pulmonary fibrosis, decreased DLCO, and decreased vital capacity more frequently than those with normal CTGF levels. Further, DLCO and vital capacity were inversely and directly correlated with serum CTGF levels in patients with SSc. The dSSc patients with disease duration of 1-3 years had significantly elevated levels of CTGF compared with dSSc patients with duration < 1 year or more than 3 years.
Conclusion: Serum CTGF levels were increased in patients with SSc, and correlated with the extent of skin sclerosis and the severity of pulmonary fibrosis. In addition, it appears that production of CTGF is involved in the development or maintenance of fibrosis rather than in initiation of fibrosis in SSc. These data suggest that CTGF plays a critical role in the development of fibrosis in SSc.