Scleroderma

Scleroderma - What is Scleroderma?

Scleroderma is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by fibrosis (or hardening), vascular alterations, and autoantibodies. 

The cause of Scleroderma is unknown. Scleroderma runs in families, but the genes have not been identified. It affects the small blood vessels known as arterioles, in all organs

There are two major forms of Scleroderma:

Limited systemic sclerosis/scleroderma's cutaneous manifestations mainly affect the hands, arms and face. Previously called CREST syndrome in reference to the following complications: Calcinosis, Raynaud's phenomenon, Esophageal dysfunction, Sclerodactyly, and Telangiectasias.

Additionally, pulmonary arterial hypertension may occur in up to one third of patients and is the most serious complication for this form of scleroderma.

Diffuse systemic sclerosis/scleroderma is rapidly progressing and affects a large area of the skin and one or more internal organs, frequently the kidneys, esophagus, heart and lungs. This form of scleroderma can be quite disabling.

There are no treatments for scleroderma itself, but individual organ system complications are treated.

Other forms of scleroderma include Systemic sine scleroderma, which lacks skin changes, but has systemic manifestations, and two localized forms which affect the skin, but not the internal organs: morphea, and linear scleroderma.

Prognosis is generally good for limited cutaneous scleroderma patients that escape pulmonary complications.

Prognosis is worse for diffuse cutaneous disease, particularly in older age, and for males. Death occurs most often from pulmonary, heart and kidney complications. In diffuse cutaneous disease, 5-year survival is 70%, 10-year survival 55%.

First, the endothelial cells of the arteriole die off, along with smooth muscle cells, by a process of apoptosis. They are replaced by collagen and other fibrous material.

Inflammatory cells, particularly CD4+ helper T cells, infiltrate the arteriole, and cause further damage. Many of the inflammatory and destructive protein signals have been identified, and they are potential targets for drugs that could interrupt the process.

  • Localized scleroderma
    • Localized morphea
    • Morphea-lichen sclerosus et atrophicus overlap
    • Generalized morphea
    • Atrophoderma of Pasini and Pierini
    • Pansclerotic morphea
    • Morphea profunda
    • Linear scleroderma
    • Systemic scleroderma
      • CREST syndrome
      • Progressive systemic sclerosis

This disease is found among all races worldwide, but women are four times more likely to develop scleroderma than men. In the United States, approximately one person in 1,000 is affected.

Children rarely suffer the systemic type, but localized scleroderma is common. Most adults are diagnosed after their 30th birthday and before age 50.

The disease has high rates among the native American Choctaw tribe and African-American females.

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Scleroderma Diagnosis

Typical scleroderma is classically defined as symmetrical skin thickening, with about 90% of cases also presenting with Raynaud's phenomenon, nail-fold capillary changes, and anti-nuclear antibodies.

Patients may or may not experience systemic organ involvement.

Atypical scleroderma may show any variation of these changes without skin changes or with finger swelling only.

Additional symptoms of scleroderma typically present themselves within two years of Raynaud's phenomenon.

Individuals with morphea or limited scleroderma have a relatively positive outlook. They will usually succumb to another disease, not the scleroderma.

Those with very widespread skin and organ involvement (systemic) have a negative prognosis. More women have scleroderma, but the disease kills more men. Following diagnosis, two-thirds of patients live at least 11 years.

The higher the patient's age at diagnosis, the more likely they are to die from the disease.

This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Scleroderma" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Scleroderma History

Cases of skin disease similar to scleroderma may be found in the writings of Hippocrates as far back as 460–370 B.C. Oribasius (325–403 A.D.) and Paulus Agineta (625–690 A.D.), also wrote on the subject. It is difficult for us to know if these were truly examples of scleroderma because the descriptions were inexact.

The first definite description of the disease was by Carlo Curzio in a monograph published in Naples in 1753. This account produced considerable interest in French and English medical circles.

The account concerns a young woman of 17 named Patrizia Galiera, who was admitted to the hospital and assigned to Dr. Curzio. Her symptoms as described by the doctor involved hardness of the skin (differing in degree from place to place), tightness around the mouth, and hardness around the neck. He noted loss of warmth in the skin but no other problem in pulse, respiration, or digestion.

Much of the report contains details of the treatment, which included warm milk and vapor baths, bleeding from the foot, and small doses of quicksilver. After 11 months, the skin became soft and flexible, and all natural functions were restored.

Curzio's observations were published in French in 1755 and aroused considerable interest. The early dermatological texts of R. William in London (1808) and his student, J. L. Alibert, in Paris (1818) referred to Curzio's observation.

This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Scleroderma" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.