Immunotherapy of systemic sclerosis

Immunotherapy. 2010 Nov;2(6):863-78. doi: 10.2217/imt.10.69.


Scleroderma is a multisystem autoimmune disease characterized by an abnormal immune activation associated with the development of underlying vascular and fibrotic disease manifestations. This article highlights the current use of drugs targeting the immune system in scleroderma. Nonselective immunosuppression, and in particular cyclophosphamide, remains the main treatment for progressing skin involvement and active interstitial lung disease. Mycophenolate mofetil is a promising alternative to cyclophosphamide. The use of cyclosporine has been limited by modest efficacy and serious renal toxicity. Newer T-cell (sirolimus and alefacept) and B-cell (rituximab)-targeted therapies have provided some encouraging results in small pilot studies. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation can be effective for severe fibrotic skin disease, but toxicity remains a concern. Clinical efficacy and safety of antifibrotic treatments (e.g., imatinib) await confirmation. Newer biological agents targeting key molecular or cellular effectors in scleroderma pathogenesis are now available for clinical testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Benzamides
  • Cyclophosphamide / therapeutic use
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Humans
  • Imatinib Mesylate
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Piperazines / adverse effects
  • Piperazines / therapeutic use
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Pyrimidines / adverse effects
  • Pyrimidines / therapeutic use
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / immunology*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / physiopathology
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Benzamides
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Piperazines
  • Pyrimidines
  • Imatinib Mesylate
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases