Systemic sclerosis is characterized by fibrosis and subsequent atrophy of the skin and several internal organs as well as by generalized obliterative vasculopathy. The ethiology of systemic sclerosis is not quite clear yet, but the role of certain environmental factors, genetic properties and microchimaerism has been proven. Vasculopathy is a key feature that includes both functional changes (Raynaud's phenomenon) and morphological alterations (lesion of the endothel). The triggering event is the activation of endothelial cells. This is followed by an autoimmune inflammatory process causing vascular lesion, which will eventually lead to progressive pathologic fibrosis with increased deposition of collagen and intercellular matrix proteins. Normal tissues of vital internal organs will gradually loose structure, become atrophic and irreversibly damaged. In the treatment of systemic sclerosis the most significant achievements of the past decade have been made in the therapy and prevention of scleroderma renal crisis, pulmonary arterial hypertension and other vascular complications, resulting in higher survival rates and better quality of life. In pulmonary fibrosis the beneficial effect of cyclophosphamide therapy has been proven. Today, research focuses on new therapeutic approaches based on the recently clarified molecular pathological processes, as well as on laboratory and clinical markers that predict the activity of the disease or the efficiency of therapy. The aim of the present paper is to review current knowledge on the pathology of systemic sclerosis and provide help in the diagnosis, therapy and follow-up of the disease.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Lege Artis Medicinae|
|Publication status||Published - Jan 1 2007|
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