The pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis

Annu Rev Pathol. 2011;6:509-37. doi: 10.1146/annurev-pathol-011110-130312.

Abstract

Systemic sclerosis (SSc), also known as scleroderma, is a rare connective tissue disease characterized by vascular and immune dysfunction, leading to fibrosis that can damage multiple organs. Its pathogenesis is complex and poorly understood. Two major clinical subtypes are the limited and diffuse forms. Research into SSc has been hampered by its rarity, its clinical heterogeneity, and the lack of mouse models that accurately recapitulate the disease. Clinical and basic studies have yielded some mechanistic clues regarding pathogenesis. Recent insights gained through the use of microarrays have revealed distinctive subsets of SSc within and beyond the limited and diffuse subsets. In this review, we discuss potential mechanisms underlying the vascular, autoimmune, and fibrotic points of dysregulation. Proper categorization of SSc patients for research studies by use of microarrays or other biomarkers is critical, as disease heterogeneity may explain some of the inconsistencies of prior studies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Scleroderma, Systemic* / etiology
  • Scleroderma, Systemic* / immunology
  • Scleroderma, Systemic* / pathology
  • Vascular Diseases* / etiology
  • Vascular Diseases* / immunology
  • Vascular Diseases* / pathology