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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2006 Nov;45(11):1349-55.

Expression of osteonectin and matrix Gla protein in scleroderma patients with and without calcinosis.

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Rheumatic Diseases Centre, Clinical Sciences Building, Hope Hospital, Eccles Old Road, Salford M6 8HD, UK.



Our aim was to evaluate (i) whether the bone matrix proteins osteonectin and matrix gamma-carboxyglutamic acid protein (MGP) are up-regulated in skin biopsies from patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) and (ii) whether there is differential expression between patients with and without dermal calcinosis, a distressing and debilitating complication of SSc.


Skin punch biopsies were taken from the forearms of 38 SSc patients with the limited cutaneous subtype of SSc [17 without calcinosis (lcSSc) and 21 with calcinosis (lcSScCal)] and from 11 healthy control subjects. Immunohistochemistry was performed with antibodies to osteonectin and MGP. Staining was assessed semiquantitatively in the microvascular endothelium and in dermal fibroblasts. The Kruskal-Wallis one-way ANOVA was used to compare the data between patient groups.


Both lcSSc and lcSScCal groups showed a statistically significant increase in the percentage of microvessels with osteonectin-positive endothelial cells (EC) (especially the lcSScCal group), whereas lcSScCal alone showed an increase in the percentage of microvessels with MGP-positive EC when compared with controls. In both SSc groups, the percentage of osteonectin and MGP-stained fibroblasts was increased in the reticular dermis (for osteonectin this was more marked in the lcSScCal group). In the papillary dermis, the percentage of osteonectin-stained fibroblasts was increased in both SSc groups but the lcSScCal group alone had a higher percentage of MGP-stained fibroblasts.


When compared with controls, protein expression of osteonectin and MGP was greater in SSc patients generally, and osteonectin expression was significantly higher in EC and fibroblasts of the lcSScCal patients than the lcSSc patients without calcinosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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