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International Journal of Rheumatology
Volume 2010, Article ID 538589, 8 pages
Review Article

Renal Manifestations in Scleroderma: Evidence for Subclinical Renal Disease as a Marker of Vasculopathy

Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy, Georgetown University Hospital, 3800 Reservoir Road, N.W, Washington, DC 20007, USA

Received 14 May 2010; Accepted 12 July 2010

Academic Editor: Eswar Krishnan

Copyright © 2010 Victoria K. Shanmugam and Virginia D. Steen. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Scleroderma is a disease characterized by immune activation, vasculopathy, fibroblast stimulation, and connective tissue fibrosis. End-organ damage occurs due to progressive tissue fibrosis and vasculopathy. Markers of incipient vasculopathy have not been well studied in scleroderma. However, reduced renal functional reserve and proteinuria are common indicators of progressive vasculopathy in diabetic and hypertensive vasculopathy. Recent studies suggest a strong association between renal involvement and outcomes in scleroderma, with a threefold increased risk of mortality from pulmonary hypertension if renal insufficiency is present. We review the types of renal involvement seen in scleroderma and the data to support the use of renal parameters including proteinuria, glomerular filtration rate, and renal vascular dynamics measured with Doppler ultrasound to identify subclinical renal insufficiency. Further studies are warranted to investigate the use of renal parameters as prognostic indicators in scleroderma.