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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Autoimmune Diseases and Antinuclear Antibody Testing: Methods and Staining Patterns. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Systemic Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases (SARDs), continued

Systemic sclerosis (SSc)/Scleroderma
Systemic sclerosis, also known as scleroderma, is a complex, multisystem, inflammatory autoimmune disease that often progressively affects the skin, blood vessels, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, heart, and musculoskeletal tissues. Individuals with scleroderma overproduce collagen, a fibrous protein that makes up connective tissue including skin, resulting in symptoms that range from cosmetic problems to tissue damage to life-threatening organ dysfunction. Although SSc is relatively rare and its prevalence difficult to determine. the condition is estimated to affect as many as 250 out of every million American adults. Scleroderma can affect anyone at any age, including children, but most cases are observed in individuals age 30 to 50 with women being affected four times more often than men. The condition may be more common in certain Native Americans, European descendants, and women of African descent.

Polymyositis (PM)
Polymyositis is a rather uncommon chronic inflammatory disease that produces muscle weakness. The condition is characterized by chronic muscle inflammation accompanied by muscle weakness and affects skeletal muscles on both sides of the body. PM can make it difficult to climb stairs, rise from a seated position, lift objects, or reach overhead. It is considered to be an autoimmune disease that is typically observed in adults between the ages of 31 and 60, and is more common in blacks than in whites, with women affected more than men. The condition is relatively rare with an incidence in the United States of approximately 0.5-8.4 cases per million people.

Dermatomyositis (DM)
Dermatomyositis is an uncommon inflammatory disease marked by muscle weakness and a distinctive skin rash. The condition is similar to PM in that it produces inflammation of the muscles and may also affect the joints. It produces inflammation of the skin and the underlying muscle tissue typically involving degeneration of collagen, discoloration and swelling. The skin rash appears patchy with purple or red discolorations and typically develops on the eyelids and on the muscles used to extend or straighten joints. The rash can also appear on other areas of the body. DM affects adults and children alike. In adults, DM usually occurs from the late 40s to early 60s. In children, the disease most often appears between 5 and 15 years of age. DM affects more females than males. The incidence of DM is approximately 9 cases per million population in the US.