Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: CREST syndrome


Raynaud’s phenomenon often precedes the diagnosis of systemic sclerosis and is the first symptom of the disease in many cases. Antinuclear antibody positivity can assist in the early identification of cases of isolated Raynaud’s phenomenon likely to progress to systemic sclerosis. However, the specific differences between rate of progression for different scleroderma hallmark antibodies is less clear. We review the predictive potential of ANA positivity and nailfold capillaroscopy for identifying cases of Raynaud’s phenomenon which may progress to connective tissue diseases. We also have reviewed data from our own large scleroderma cohort to explore the relationship between antibody subtype and time to development of SSc. Duration of pre-existing Raynaud’s phenomenon may be an important determinant of the profile of systemic sclerosis cases identified through screening. Ninety-five percent of our patients with isolated Raynaud’s phenomenon, negative autoimmune serology on more than one visit and normal capillaroscopy score showed no progression to connective tissue disease. Duration of antecedent Raynaud’s phenomenon differs between disease subsets and scleroderma-specific ANA patterns.

Concepts: Immune system, Blood, Rheumatology, Autoimmune diseases, Scleroderma, Systemic scleroderma, Raynaud's phenomenon, CREST syndrome


Raynaud’s phenomenon and digital ulcers (DUs) are frequent among systemic sclerosis (SSc) patients. Our aim was to investigate the diagnostic and predictive value for DU of endothelial dysfunction biomarkers (flow-mediated dilatation (FMD), serum levels of endothelin-1 (ET-1), and ADMA), angiogenic/angiostatic biomarkers (vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), endoglin, and endostatin), and nailfold videocapillaroscopy (NVC). We compared our results with a literature review. In a cohort study of 77 SSc patients, we followed two groups of patients: (i) naïve DU patients (39) and (ii) active DU at baseline (38 patients) for 3 years. Telangiectasia (p < 0.001) and diffuse disease subset (p = 0.001) were significantly more frequent in patients with active DU at enrolment. Additionally, NVC late scleroderma pattern (AUC 0.846, 95%CI 0.760-0.932), lower values of FMD (AUC 0.754, 95%CI 0.643-0.864), increased serum levels of ET-1 (AUC 0.758, 95%CI 0.649-0.866), ADMA (AUC 0.634, 95%CI 0.511-0.757), and endoglin as well as low VEGF serum levels (AUC 0.705, 95%CI 0.579-0.830) were significantly associated to new DU events in the 3-year follow-up. Cox regression analysis showed that FMD > 9.41 % (HR 0.37, 95%CI 0.14-0.99); ET-1 >11.85 pmol/L (HR 3.81, 95%CI 1.41-10.26) and late NVC pattern (HR 2.29, 95%CI 0.97-5.38) were independent predictors of DU recurrence. When estimating the probability of occurrence of first DU in naïve DU patients, only late NVC pattern (HR 12.66, 95%CI 2.06-77.89) was an independent predictor factor. In conclusion, late scleroderma patterns in NVC are the best independent predictors of SSc patients who are at risk of developing DU. Endothelial dysfunction assessed by FMD and ET-1 was also found to be an independent predictor of DU recurrence in a 3-year follow-up.

Concepts: Angiogenesis, Vascular endothelial growth factor, Rheumatology, Endothelium, Scleroderma, Systemic scleroderma, Raynaud's phenomenon, CREST syndrome


To report the predictive value of nail-fold capillaroscopy (NFC) patterns of vasculopathy for systemic sclerosis (Scleroderma; SSc) in an unselected cohort of patients with Raynaud’s phenomenon (RP).

Concepts: Rheumatology, Autoimmune diseases, Finger, Scleroderma, Systemic scleroderma, Raynaud's phenomenon, CREST syndrome, Mucinoses


RP is the most common manifestation of SSc and a major cause of disease-related morbidity. This review provides a detailed appraisal of the patient experience of SSc-RP and potential implications for disease classification, patient-reported outcome instrument development and SSc-RP clinical trial design. The review explores the clinical features of SSc-RP, the severity and burden of SSc-RP symptoms and the impact of SSc-RP on function, work and social participation, body image dissatisfaction and health-related quality of life in SSc. Where management of SSc-RP is concerned, the review focuses on the ‘patient experience’ of interventions for SSc-RP, examining geographic variation in clinical practice and potential barriers to the adoption of treatment recommendations concerning best-practice management of SSc-RP. Knowledge gaps are highlighted that could form the focus of future research. A more thorough understanding of the patient experience could support the development of novel reported outcome instruments for assessing SSc-RP.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Rheumatology, Clinical research, Clinical trial protocol, Scleroderma, Systemic scleroderma, Raynaud's phenomenon, CREST syndrome


Most patients with Raynaud’s phenomenon (RP) have “benign” primary RP (PRP), but a minority have an underlying cause, for example a connective tissue disease such as systemic sclerosis (SSc). Secondary RP can be associated with structural as well as functional digital vascular changes and can be very severe, potentially progressing to digital ulceration or gangrene. The first step in management is to establish why the patient has RP. This short review discusses the role of nailfold capillaroscopy and thermography in the assessment of RP. Nailfold capillaroscopy examines microvascular structure, which is normal in PRP but abnormal in most patients with SSc: the inclusion of abnormal nailfold capillaries into the 2013 classification criteria for SSc behoves clinicians diagnosing connective tissue disease to be familiar with the technique. For those without access to the gold standard of high magnification videocapillaroscopy, a low magnification dermatoscope or USB microscope can be used. Thermography measures surface temperature and is therefore an indirect measure of blood blow, assessing digital vascular function (abnormal in both PRP and SSc). Until now, the use of thermography has been mainly confined to specialist centres and used mainly in research: this may change with development of mobile phone thermography.

Concepts: Blood, Rheumatology, Temperature, Scleroderma, Systemic scleroderma, Thermography, Raynaud's phenomenon, CREST syndrome


Raynaud’s phenomenon is a vasospastic disorder of the digital vessels triggered by exposure to cold or stress. It is most commonly observed in the hands, but also frequently affects the toes. We present three cases of patients with severe Raynaud’s phenomenon in the toes, secondary to scleroderma. The diagnosis of Raynaud’s syndrome and scleroderma was established according to the 2010 American College of Rheumatology and European League Against Rheumatism criteria. Patients were treated with 10 units of botulinum toxin injected into each foot. Two millilitres was injected into the base of each toe in both the left and right feet. Six weeks postinjection into the toes, patients reported an improvement of cold intolerance, colour change and frequency and severity of Raynaud’s attacks. The effects were reported to last up to 5 months. To our knowledge, these are the first reported cases of the treatment of Raynaud’s phenomenon in the toes with botulinum toxin A.

Concepts: Foot, Rheumatology, Syndromes, Finger, Scleroderma, Raynaud's phenomenon, CREST syndrome


Iloprost plays an important role in the treatment of Raynaud’s phenomenon (RP), but has transient vasodilatory effects owing to its very short half-time. We aimed to evaluate short- and medium-term haemodynamic effects of iloprost by measuring dorsal finger microvessel blood flow using laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF), in patients with RP associated with systemic sclerosis (SSc).

Concepts: Rheumatology, Prostacyclin, Autoimmune diseases, Finger, Scleroderma, Systemic scleroderma, Raynaud's phenomenon, CREST syndrome


Telangiectasia macularis eruptiva perstans (TMEP) is a rare form of cutaneous mastocytosis. While most cutaneous mastocytoses occur in children and are asymptomatic, TMEP occurs predominantly in adults and is associated with systemic manifestations, requiring medical management. TMEP is typically characterised by scattered red-brown macules on the trunk and extremities, but must be differentiated from other telangiectatic conditions such as scleroderma, hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia and telangiectasias secondary to cirrhosis. Practitioners must be aware that variants to the classic presentation of TMEP exist, such as the ringed telangiectasias we describe. Diagnostic workup including tissue biopsy must be considered in such patients after a thorough history and physical have been performed and other telangiectatic processes have been ruled out. The treatment of cutaneous mastocytosis aims at controlling symptoms and preventing mast cell degranulation. Cosmetic treatment includes the use ofPsoralen and ultraviolet A (PUVA) therapy, total skin electron beam radiation and flashlamp pulsed-dye laser treatment.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Mast cell, Mastocytosis, Degranulation, Telangiectasia, Dermal and subcutaneous growths, Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, CREST syndrome


The objective of the study is to determine the importance of the mode of onset as prognostic factor in systemic sclerosis (SSc). Data were collected from the Spanish Scleroderma Registry (RESCLE), a nationwide retrospective multicenter database created in 2006. As first symptom, we included Raynaud’s phenomenon (RP), cutaneous sclerosis, arthralgia/arthritis, puffy hands, interstitial lung disease (ILD), pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), and digestive hypomotility. A total of 1625 patients were recruited. One thousand three hundred forty-two patients (83%) presented with RP as first symptom and 283 patients (17%) did not. Survival from first symptom in those patients with RP mode of onset was higher at any time than those with onset as non-Raynaud’s phenomenon: 97 vs. 90% at 5 years, 93 vs. 82% at 10 years, 83 vs. 62% at 20 years, and 71 vs. 50% at 30 years (p < 0.001). In multivariate analysis, factors related to mortality were older age at onset, male gender, dcSSc subset, ILD, PAH, scleroderma renal crisis (SRC), heart involvement, and the mode of onset with non-Raynaud's phenomenon, especially in the form of puffy hands or pulmonary involvement. The mode of onset should be considered an independent prognostic factor in systemic sclerosis and, in particular, patients who initially present with non-Raynaud's phenomenon may be considered of poor prognosis.

Concepts: Pulmonology, Medical terms, Heart, Rheumatology, Scleroderma, Systemic scleroderma, Raynaud's phenomenon, CREST syndrome


The aim of this work was to study inter- and intra-observer agreement for the diagnosis of scleroderma pattern by wide-field capillaroscopy.

Concepts: Rheumatology, Scleroderma, Raynaud's phenomenon, CREST syndrome