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עמוד בית
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July 2019
Laura Andreoli MD PhD, Antía García-Fernández MD, Maria Chiara Gerardi MD and Angela Tincani MD

Rheumatic diseases commonly affect women of childbearing age, when women may be contemplating pregnancy or they discover an unplanned pregnancy. Therefore, specific issues about pregnancy planning and management are commonly encountered in patients during these times. Knowledge of the effect of pregnancy on disease activity is important for counseling. This review summarizes recent data on the course of different rheumatic diseases during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus are the most commonly investigated diseases. Data are increasing about spondyloarthritis. Sparse data are available for other rheumatic diseases. Despite the differences in these diseases and the various courses these disease take during pregnancy, a common feature is that active maternal disease in the months prior to conception increases the risk of flares during pregnancy, which in turn can lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes. Therefore, maternal and fetal health can be optimized if conception is planned when disease is inactive so that a treatment regimen can be maintained throughout pregnancy.

October 2015
Jalaa Zarroug MD, Graham R.V. Hughes MD FRCP and Christopher J. Edwards MD FRCP
November 2014
February 2012
L.V. Lage, J.F. de Carvalho, M.T.C. Caleiro, N.H. Yoshinari, L.M.H. da Mota, M.A Khamashta and W. Cossermelli

Background: Antibodies directed against endothelial cell surface antigens have been described in many disorders and have been associated with disease activity. Since the most prominent histopathologic feature in mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD) is the widespread and unique proliferative vascular lesion, our aim was to evaluate the frequency of anti-endothelial cell antibodies (AECA) in this condition.

Objectives: To evaluate the frequency of AECA in this disease and assess its clinical and laboratory associations.

Methods: Seventy-three sera from 35 patients with MCTD (Kasukawa’s criteria), collected during a 7 year period, were tested for immunoglobulins G and M (IgG and IgM) AECA by cellular ELISA, using HUVEC (human umbilical vein endothelial cells). Sera from 37 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), 22 with systemic sclerosis (SSc) and 36 sera from normal healthy individuals were used as controls. A cellular ELISA using HeLa cells was also performed as a laboratory control method.

Results: IgG-AECA was detected in 77% of MCTD patients, 54% of SLE patients, 36% of SSc patients and 6% of normal controls. In MCTD, IgG-AECA was associated with vasculitic manifestations, disease activity and lymphopenia, and was also a predictor of constant disease activity. Immunosuppressive drugs were shown to reduce IgG-AECA titers. Since antibodies directed to HeLa cell surface were negative, AECA was apparently unrelated to common epitopes present on epithelial cell lines.

Conclusions: AECA are present in a large proportion of patients with MCTD and these antibodies decrease after immunosuppressive treatment.

January 2011
A. Balbir-Gurman and Y. Braun-Moscovici

Background: Overlap syndrome is an entity that satisfies the criteria of at least two connective tissue diseases. These conditions include systemic sclerosis, dermatomyositis or polymyositis, Sjogren's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. A combined pathology has impact on the clinical features, diagnosis and treatment.

Objectives: To analyze the features of SSc[1] patients with overlap syndrome registered in the European (EUSTAR) database at our center and to review the literature focusing on clinical and diagnostic issues and new treatments.

Methods: We studied the medical records of 165 consecutive SSc patients and reviewed cases with scleroderma overlap syndrome. Using the key words “overlap syndrome," "systemic sclerosis," “connective tissue disease” and “biological agents” we conducted a PubMed search for the period 1977 to 2009.

Results: Forty patients satisfied the criteria for scleroderma overlap syndrome. The incidence of additional connective tissue diseases in the whole group and in the overlap syndrome group respectively was: dermatomyositis or polymyositis 11.5% and 47.5%, Sjogren's syndrome 10.3% and 42.5%, rheumatoid arthritis 3.6% and 15.4%, and systemic lupus erythematosus 1.2% and 5.0%. Coexistence of SSc and another CTD[2] aggravated the clinical course, especially lung, kidney, digestive, vascular and articular involvement. Non-rheumatic complications mimicked SSc complications. An additional rheumatic or non-rheumatic disease affected treatment choice.

Conclusions: The definition of scleroderma overlap syndrome is important, especially in patients who need high-dose corticosteroids for complications of a CTD. The use of novel biological therapies may be advocated in these patients to avoid the hazardous influences of high-dose steroids, especially renal crisis. In some overlap syndrome cases, biological agents serve both conditions; in others one of the conditions may limit their use. In the absence of formal clinical trials in these patients a cautious approach is preferred.

[1] SSc = systemic cclerosis

[2] CTD = connective tissue disease

September 2008
J. F. Swart and N. M. Wulffraat

Raynaud's phenomenon, fatigue and pain (myalgia and arthralgia) are important presenting symptoms of pediatric-onset mixed connective tissue disease. The difficulty is that many adolescent girls complain of pain along with fatigue without evidence for serious disease. However, in patients with Raynaud's phenomenon one should search for evidence of connective tissue diseases. Capillaroscopy could be helpful since capillary changes of the SD-type significantly correlate with future development of scleroderma spectrum disorders. Symptoms of MCTD[1] change in most patients during the disease course: in general the inflammatory features that are also seen in systemic lupus erythematosus and juvenile dermatomyositis have the tendency to disappear over years, but Raynaud's phenomenon is persistent and scleroderma symptoms become progressively prominent. Long-lasting remission occurs only in a minority of patients, while the majority has mild disease activity. Mortality in children with MCTD is lower than in adults. Since a change of symptoms is in the nature of the disease a thorough and frequent evaluation of children with (probable) MCTD is important to detect organ involvement which, if present, should be treated at an early (pre-symptomatic) stage. We present a diagnostic workup scheme for children and adolescents with propable MCTD.

[1] MCTD = mixed connective tissue disease

July 2008
V. K. Shanmugam, V. D. Steen and T. R. Cupps

Lower extremity ulcers are a late complication of connective tissue diseases and occur more commonly in patients with this disease than in the general population. Although these lesions have historically been attributed to vasculitis, it is now recognized that inflammatory vessel injury accounts for fewer than 20% of ulcers in connective tissue disease. The pathogenesis of these lesions is complex, and often several processes act synergistically to initiate and perpetuate tissue injury. We review the evidence for antiphospholipid antibodies and prothrombotic states contributing to a vasculopathy in patients with connective tissue disease, precipitating ulceration and impairing healing.

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