New insights into the pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis

Autoimmun Rev. 2003 May;2(3):152-7. doi: 10.1016/s1568-9972(03)00004-1.


Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a connective tissue disorder characterized by vascular abnormalities and excessive collagen synthesis. Extracellular matrix overproduction by fibroblasts results from abnormal interactions among endothelial cells, mononuclear cells (lymphocytes and monocytes) and fibroblasts, in a setting of vascular hyperreactivity and tissue hypoxia. Many autoantibodies have been identified in the sera of SSc patients; some of them are specific to the disease, such as anti-centromere antibodies in limited SSc, anti-topoisomerase 1 and anti-RNA polymerase I/III antibodies in diffuse SSc. Their pathogenetic role(s) remains uncertain. However, genetic, environmental and possibly alloreactive factors might also contribute to disease susceptibility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / analysis
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Chimera / immunology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / immunology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / immunology
  • Interleukin-4 / immunology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Models, Biological
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / etiology*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / genetics
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / immunology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / immunology


  • Autoantibodies
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Interleukin-4