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Abstract

Background  Nephrogenic fibrosing dermopathy/nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NFD/NSF) is a fibrosing cutaneous disorder recently recognized to have systemic manifestations. The disease is characterized clinically by an acute onset of hardening and thickening of the skin of the extremities and trunk, often resulting in flexion contractures, and histologically by an increase in spindle-shaped cells, collagen, and sometimes mucin deposition in the dermis. The only common exposure amongst patients is acute or chronic renal failure. The pathophysiology of the disease remains to be elucidated, and there is currently no consistently effective treatment for this unremitting disease.

Methods  We report a case series of nine patients seen at the University of Pennsylvania between 1998 and mid-2004. The clinical, laboratory, and pathologic data of these patients are reviewed.

Results  All patients had renal disease, received peritoneal or hemodialysis, and five had received at least one renal transplant. All patients had characteristic fibrotic cutaneous lesions involving the trunk, extremities, or both, and eight of the nine patients had scleral plaques. There were no other common findings amongst the histories, medications, or laboratory results of the patients.

Conclusion  Our report confirms the clinical and histologic characteristics of NFD that have been described previously, and raises new issues regarding the possible subtypes. A review of the current literature stresses that further basic science and translational studies are necessary to understand the disease mechanism and to propose effective therapy, and emphasizes the importance of recognizing the systemic effects of NFD.