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Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2016 Feb;30(1):95-111. doi: 10.1016/j.berh.2016.03.002. Epub 2016 Apr 12.

Mixed connective tissue disease.

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  • 1Rheumatology Unit, Oslo University Hospital Rikshospitalet, Oslo, Norway. Electronic address:
  • 2Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
  • 3Rheumatology Unit, Oslo University Hospital Rikshospitalet, Oslo, Norway.
  • 4Rheumatology Unit, Oslo University Hospital Rikshospitalet, Oslo, Norway; Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.


The concept of mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD) as a separate connective tissue disease (CTD) has persisted for more than four decades. High titers of antibodies targeting the U1 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particle (U1 snRNP) in peripheral blood are a sine qua non for the diagnosis of MCTD, in addition to distinct clinical features including Raynaud's phenomenon (RP), "puffy hands," arthritis, myositis, pleuritis, pericarditis, interstitial lung disease (ILD), and pulmonary hypertension (PH). Recently, population-based epidemiology data from Norway estimated the point prevalence of adult-onset MCTD to be 3.8 per 100,000 and the mean annual incidence to be 2.1 per million per year, supporting the notion that MCTD is the least common CTD. Little is known about the etiology of MCTD, but recent genetic studies have confirmed that MCTD is a strongly HLA (​human leukocyte antigen)-linked disease, as the HLA profiles of MCTD differ distinctly from the corresponding profiles of ethnically matched healthy controls and other CTDs. In the first section of this review, we provide an update on the clinical, immunological, and genetic features of MCTD and discuss the relationship between MCTD and the other CTDs. Then we proceed to discuss the recent advances in therapy and our current understanding of prognosis and prognostic factors, especially those that are associated with the more serious pulmonary and cardiovascular complications of the disease. In the final section, we discuss some of the key, unresolved questions related to anti-RNP-associated diseases and indicate how these questions may be approached in future studies.


Dermatomyositis; Genetics; Interstitial pulmonary fibrosis; Mixed connective tissue disease; Myositis; Polymyositis; Pulmonary hypertension; Systemic lupus erythematosus; Systemic sclerosis; U1 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein

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