Chemical exposure-induced systemic fibrosing disorders: Novel insights into systemic sclerosis etiology and pathogenesis

Sonsoles Piera-Velazquez, Peter J. Wermuth, Juan J. Gomez-Reino, John Varga, Sergio A. Jimenez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Numerous drugs and chemical substances are capable of inducing exaggerated tissue fibrotic responses. The vast majority of these agents cause localized fibrotic tissue reactions or fibrosis confined to specific organs. Although much less frequent, chemically-induced systemic fibrotic disorders have been described, sometimes occurring as temporally confined outbreaks. These include the Toxic Oil Syndrome (TOS), the Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome (EMS), and Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF). Although each of these disorders displays some unique characteristics, they all share crucial features with Systemic Sclerosis (SSc), the prototypic idiopathic systemic fibrotic disease, including vasculopathy, chronic inflammatory cell infiltration of affected tissues, and cutaneous and visceral tissue fibrosis. The study of the mechanisms and molecular alterations involved in the development of the chemically-induced systemic fibrotic disorders has provided valuable clues that may allow elucidation of SSc etiology and pathogenesis. Here, we review relevant aspects of the TOS, EMS, and NSF epidemic outbreaks of chemically-induced systemic fibrosing disorders that provide strong support to the hypothesis that SSc is caused by a toxic or biological agent that following its internalization by endothelial cells induces in genetically predisposed individuals a series of molecular alterations that result in the development of SSc clinical and pathological alterations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1226-1237
Number of pages12
JournalSeminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Rheumatology


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