Systemic sclerosis is the autoimmune connective tissue disease with the highest morbidity and mortality, through the combination of inflammation, vasculopathy and fibrosis leading to severe internal organ involvement. Currently, there are no approved disease-modifying therapies, and treatment is based on organ-specific treatment and broad immunosuppression, with disappointing long-term results in most cases. Recent research has helped to improve knowledge of the pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis and to optimize treatment based on specific physiopathological targets, and a new era of biological agents in systemic sclerosis has now begun. Promising results are emerging from targeting specific cytokine signalling, especially IL-6, and cellular subpopulations such as B cells, with anti-CD20 therapy, and T-cells, with inhibition of T-cell co-stimulation. Other approaches under evaluation are based on the modulation of profibrotic pathways by anti-TGF-β agents. In this chapter, we discuss the available evidence to support the use of each biological agent in systemic sclerosis based on data from basic and translational research and on results from clinical studies.
Part of the book: Systemic Sclerosis
Recent advances in imaging studies and treatment approaches have greatly improved our knowledge about Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA). Previously thought of as a predominantly cranial disease, we now know that GCA is a systemic disease that may involve other medium and large vessel territories. Several imaging studies have shown that between 30 and 70% of patients with GCA present with large-vessel vasculitis. Moreover, a significant proportion of patients present large-vessel disease in the absence of cranial involvement. Extra-cranial disease also poses management challenges as these patients may have a more refractory-relapsing disease course and need additional therapies. Aortic dilation and aneurysms are well-described late complications of GCA involving the large artery territories. In this chapter, we discuss the clinical picture of extra-cranial involvement in GCA, focusing on improved diagnostic protocols and suitable treatment strategies.
Part of the book: Giant-Cell Arteritis