Monocyte chemoattractant proteins in the pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2009 Feb;48(2):98-103. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ken401. Epub 2008 Nov 4.


Activation of the immune system and increased synthesis of extracellular matrix proteins by fibroblasts are hallmarks in the pathogenesis of SSc. The molecular mechanisms underlying the infiltration of inflammatory cells into the skin and the subsequent activation of fibroblasts are still largely unknown. Chemokines are a family of small molecules that are classified according to the position of the NH(2)-terminal cysteine motif. Recent data indicate that chemokines and in particular two members of the subfamily of monocyte chemoattractant proteins, MCP-1 (CCL-2) and MCP-3 (CCL-7), might be involved in the pathogenesis of SSc. MCP-1 and -3 are overexpressed by SSc fibroblasts and in skin lesions from SSc patients compared to healthy controls. MCP-1 and -3 are chemotactic for inflammatory cells and stimulate their migration into the skin. In addition to their pro-inflammatory effects, MCP-1 and -3 contribute to tissue fibrosis by activating the synthesis of extracellular matrix proteins in SSc fibroblasts. Therapeutic strategies targeting MCP-1 have revealed promising results in several animal models of SSc. Antagonists against the receptor CCR2 are currently tested in clinical trials of a variety of diseases and also represent interesting candidates for target-directed therapy in SSc.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemokines / immunology
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Animal
  • Monocyte Chemoattractant Proteins / physiology*
  • Receptors, Chemokine / metabolism
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / etiology*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / immunology
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / metabolism
  • Skin / immunology
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Skin / pathology


  • Chemokines
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Monocyte Chemoattractant Proteins
  • Receptors, Chemokine