A broad look into the future of systemic sclerosis

Gabriela Riemekasten*, Jörg H.W. Distler

*Corresponding author for this work
1 Citation (Scopus)


Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a systemic autoimmune disease with the key features of inflammation, vasculopathy and fibrosis. This article focussed on emerging fields based on the authors’ current work and expertise. The authors provide a hierarchical structure into the studies of the pathogenesis of SSc starting with the contribution of environmental factors. Regulatory autoantibodies (abs) are discussed, which are parts of the human physiology and are specifically dysregulated in SSc. Abs against the angiotensin II receptor subtype 1 (AT1R) and the endothelin receptor type A (ETAR) are discussed in more detail. Extracellular vesicles are another novel player to possess disease processes. Fibroblasts are a key effector cell in SSc. Therefore, the current review will provide an overview about their plasticity in the phenotype and function. Promising nuclear receptors as key regulators of transcriptional programmes will be introduced as well as epigenetic modifications, which are pivotal to maintain the profibrotic fibroblast phenotype independent of external stimuli. Fibroblasts from SSc patients exhibit a specific signalling and reactivate developmental pathways and stem cell maintenance such as by employing hedgehog and WNT, which promote fibroblast-to-myofibroblast transition and extracellular matrix generation. Pharmacological interventions, although for other indications, are already in clinical use to address pathologic signalling.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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