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1.  Analysis of the association between CD40 and CD40 ligand polymorphisms and systemic sclerosis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(3):R154.
Introduction
The aim of the present study was to investigate the possible role of CD40 and CD40 ligand (CD40LG) genes in the susceptibility and phenotype expression of systemic sclerosis (SSc).
Methods
In total, 2,670 SSc patients and 3,245 healthy individuals from four European populations (Spain, Germany, The Netherlands, and Italy) were included in the study. Five single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of CD40 (rs1883832, rs4810485, rs1535045) and CD40LG (rs3092952, rs3092920) were genotyped by using a predesigned TaqMan allele-discrimination assay technology. Meta-analysis was assessed to determine whether an association exists between the genetic variants and SSc or its main clinical subtypes.
Results
No evidence of association between CD40 and CD40LG genes variants and susceptibility to SSc was observed. Similarly, no significant statistical differences were observed when SSc patients were stratified by the clinical subtypes, the serologic features, and pulmonary fibrosis.
Conclusions
Our results do not suggest an important role of CD40 and CD40LG gene polymorphisms in the susceptibility to or clinical expression of SSc.
doi:10.1186/ar3890
PMCID: PMC3446540  PMID: 22731751
2.  Vascular alterations upon activation of TGFβ signaling in fibroblasts - implications for systemic sclerosis 
Tissue fibrosis and vascular disease are hallmarks of systemic sclerosis (SSc). Transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) is a key-player in fibroblast activation and tissue fibrosis in SSc. In contrast to fibrosis, evidence for a role of TGFβ in vascular disease of SSc is scarce. Using a transgenic mouse model with fibroblast-specific expression of a kinase-deficient TGFβ receptor type II, Derrett-Smith and colleagues demonstrate that aberrant TGFβ signaling in fibroblasts might result in activation of vascular smooth muscle cells and architectural changes of the vessel wall of the aorta.
doi:10.1186/ar3026
PMCID: PMC2911883  PMID: 20602813
3.  The scientific basis for novel treatments of systemic sclerosis 
In recent years, many potential antifibrotic treatment strategies have emerged from molecular studies of systemic sclerosis. Few biologicals have already entered clinical trials and these may hopefully prove to be effective in this progressive, profibrotic disease.
doi:10.3410/M1-95
PMCID: PMC2948335  PMID: 20948682
4.  Hypoxia. Hypoxia in the pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis 
Autoimmunity, microangiopathy and tissue fibrosis are hallmarks of systemic sclerosis (SSc). Vascular alterations and reduced capillary density decrease blood flow and impair tissue oxygenation in SSc. Oxygen supply is further reduced by accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM), which increases diffusion distances from blood vessels to cells. Therefore, severe hypoxia is a characteristic feature of SSc and might contribute directly to the progression of the disease. Hypoxia stimulates the production of ECM proteins by SSc fibroblasts in a transforming growth factor-β-dependent manner. The induction of ECM proteins by hypoxia is mediated via hypoxia-inducible factor-1α-dependent and -independent pathways. Hypoxia may also aggravate vascular disease in SSc by perturbing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor signalling. Hypoxia is a potent inducer of VEGF and may cause chronic VEGF over-expression in SSc. Uncontrolled over-expression of VEGF has been shown to have deleterious effects on angiogenesis because it leads to the formation of chaotic vessels with decreased blood flow. Altogether, hypoxia might play a central role in pathogenesis of SSc by augmenting vascular disease and tissue fibrosis.
doi:10.1186/ar2598
PMCID: PMC2688169  PMID: 19473554

Results 1-4 (4)