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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Autoimmunity Reviews

Volume 2, Issue 4, June 2003, Pages 181-191

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1016/S1568-9972(03)00005-3. Copyright © Elsevier


Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is an autoimmune disorder of unknown etiology characterized by severe and often progressive cutaneous and visceral fibrosis, pronounced alterations in the microvasculature, and numerous cellular and humoral immune abnormalities. Clinically, SSc is very heterogeneous, encompassing a spectrum ranging from mild limited forms of skin sclerosis with minimal internal organ involvement to severe skin and multiple internal organ fibrosis. Mortality and morbidity in SSc are very high and are directly related to the extent of the fibrotic and microvascular alterations. A better understanding of the pathogenesis of this incurable disorder will help to better target and design effective therapy in the future.

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