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Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2002 Nov;14(6):717-22.

Cytokine directed therapy in scleroderma: rationale, current status, and the future.

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Rheumatology Section, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Massachusetts, USA.


The hallmark of scleroderma is cutaneous and visceral fibrosis characterized and by increased biosynthesis of multiple matrix proteins by interstitial fibroblasts. Studies over recent years have delineated pathways involved in promoting matrix synthesis and elucidated the molecular pathways of regulation. Central to the regulation of fibrosis are extracellular mediators, called cytokines, which are elaborated by a variety of cells, including those in the immune system, vascular cells, and fibroblasts themselves. The concept that inhibiting or promoting the action of these naturally occurring profibrotic or antifibrotic molecules, respectively, is a rational therapeutic approach to treating scleroderma and other fibrotic diseases finds support in animal studies and anticytokine therapy conducted in relation to rheumatoid arthritis and other disorders. This review looks at cytokines known or thought to play a role in scleroderma and/or other fibrotic states and at potential therapy directed at these mediators. Potential targets for therapy include transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta), connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), IL-4, IL-13, MCP-1, and endothelin, among others.

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