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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2006 Oct;45 Suppl 3:iii52-iii54.

Phototherapy: a promising treatment option for skin sclerosis in scleroderma?

Author information

  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Münster, D-48149 Münster, Germany.

Erratum in

  • Rheumatology (Oxford). 2008 Feb;47(2):234-5.


In systemic sclerosis (SSc; scleroderma) fibrosis of the skin can lead to considerable morbidity. No significant improvement has been reported from studies investigating antifibrotic therapies so far. In dermatology, phototherapy with ultraviolet (UV) irradiation is successfully used for treatment of several diseases because of its anti-inflammatory as well as immunosuppressive mechanisms, and its low-risk profile. In addition, the UVA spectrum in particular exerts antifibrotic effects as it leads to reduction of procollagen synthesis and expression of collagenase-1 in vitro. Accordingly, treatment with long-wavelength UVA-1 irradiation or photochemotherapy with UVA plus the photosensitizer psoralen (PUVA) have been successfully used to reduce skin fibrosis in localized scleroderma (morphea). There are only in particular few reports on treatment of skin sclerosis in SSc, but the results are in concordance with the good experience that have been observed at our and other dermatological centres. Phototherapy is able to stop or inhibit the fibrotic processes and to induce softening of sclerotic skin, especially in limited SSc. Phototherapy thus represents a therapeutic alternative for antifibrotic treatment with a low rate of adverse effects, which should be applied before the sclerotic process has proceeded too far.

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