Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a chronic autoimmune disorder characterized by widespread small vessel vasculopathy, immune dysregulation with production of autoantibodies, and progressive fibrosis. There are only few reports available concerning ophthalmological complications in the course of SSc, although ocular manifestations, e.g., dry eye syndrome (DES), occurs frequently and decreases the quality of life of these patients. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), the major pro-angiogenic factor, plays a key role in the pathomechanism of SSc. Although elevated levels of VEGF in sera have already been demonstrated, VEGF analysis in tears of patients with SSc has not been performed in previous studies. VEGF in the tears of patients with SSc was found to be decreased by 20%, compared to healthy controls. The reason why the VEGF levels are not elevated in the tears of patients with SSc needs further investigations, as does the sera of the same patients. The cytokine array results revealed a shift in the cytokine profile characterized by the predominance of inflammatory mediators. Our current data depict a group of cytokines and chemokines, which play a significant role in ocular pathology of SSc; furthermore, they might function as excellent candidates for future therapeutic targets in SSc with ocular manifestations.
Part of the book: Systemic Sclerosis