Animal model of systemic sclerosis


Toshiyuki Yamamoto, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Dermatology, Fukushima Medical University, Hikarigaoka 1, Fukushima 960-1295, Japan. Email:


Scleroderma is a fibrotic condition characterized by immunological abnormalities, vascular injury and increased accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins in the skin. Although the etiology of scleroderma has not yet been fully elucidated, a growing body of evidence suggests that extracellular matrix overproduction by activated fibroblasts results from a complex interaction among endothelial cells, lymphocytes, macrophages and fibroblasts, through a number of mediators, such as cytokines, chemokines and growth factors. For a better understanding of the pathophysiology of scleroderma, animal models are important tools. These models reproduce several histological as well as biochemical aspects of human scleroderma, and we can learn a lot through animal studies. On the other hand, it must be emphasized that studying animal models cannot answer all the problems of human scleroderma. In this review, I introduce current insights into the pathogenesis and also recent updates of therapeutic approaches using several animal models of SSc, and discuss their contribution to our understanding of the pathogenesis of, and treatments for, human scleroderma.