Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a multisystem disease with a variable clinical course and a poor prognosis corresponding to extent of microangiopathy and skin and internal organ fibrosis. Microvascular damage provokes immune cells to produce autoantibodies, pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic cytokines and chemokines. The hallmark of SSc is excessive collagen production by activated fibroblasts and myofibroblasts, and its accumulation in skin and internal organs. Better understanding of SSc pathogenesis resulted in the development of drugs, such as prostanoids, endothelin-1 and phosphodiesterase inhibitors, for treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension and digital ulcers. The use of biological therapies and anti-fibrotic agents is under investigation. Stem cell transplantation seems to be promising in restarting the immune system to diminish fibrosis and restore microvasculature. Future research will be directed at genetic factors, diagnostic and prognostic markers for fibrosis and microangiopathy, and development of drugs directed to pathogenic key cells and mediators.
© 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.