Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that mainly deals with connective tissues which are found at all parts of our body. Being an autoimmune disease, it is a disorder with the immune system that makes the antibodies attack the tissues instead of having them protect it. While most cases of scleroderma would show Raynaud’s phenomenon which are visible through the skin, a severe form of it would involve some limitations in organ functions.
One of the most affected areas when a patient is affected by scleroderma is the kidneys. In fact, it used to be the leading cause of death among scleroderma patients until a new class of drugs were made available by angiotensin converting enzyme or ACE inhibitors, which has changed the whole picture of cases of which the kidney would get involved in scleroderma.
How Does Renal Involvement In Scleroderma Develop?
The cause of scleroderma is not yet known, what is known is how it works. Scleroderma happens when a person’s immune system attacks its own tissues causing damage or the appearance of scar tissues on the affected area. If the kidneys are involved, the first involvement would be the constriction of blood vessels which are in the kidney. This is followed by scarring of the vessels thus making the surfaces thicker and limiting the functions of the kidney.
As a result of the thickening, blood flow is limited to the kidney. This in turn would cause the release of kidney hormones that could cause blood vessel constriction that could also impair the kidneys. From this point, there could be injury or a permanent dysfunction in some parts of the kidney. This constriction could also increase blood pressure and in worse case, could lead to heart failures.