The role of infectious agents in the pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis

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Over the past few years, increasing evidence has accumulated to implicate infectious agents in the etiology of systemic sclerosis (SSc) and Raynaud phenomenon. Infection rates in patients with SSc compared with those in control populations do not provide clear support for any specific pathogen. However, increased antibody titers, a preponderance of specific strains in patients with SSc, and evidence of molecular mimicry inducing autoimmune responses suggest mechanisms by which infectious agents may contribute to the development and progression of SSc. Here we review studies examining the potential involvement of Helicobacter pylori, cytomegalovirus, and parvovirus B19 in SSc pathogenesis.

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