Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed 2017 Nov 6;33(6):296-305. Epub 2017 Aug 6.
Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand.
Systemic scleroderma-also known as systemic sclerosis (SSc)-is a chronic systemic connective tissue disease characterized by collagen deposition in cutaneous and internal organs, leading to skin sclerosis and multiple organ fibrosis. The pathogenesis is complex and remains poorly understood. Treatment is based on organ involvement and requires a multidisciplinary approach. Skin sclerosis can cause disability, leading to decreasing quality of life. Various systemic antifibrotic therapies have been used; however, most have unsatisfactory results. Recently, phototherapy and in particular ultraviolet A (UVA) has been used to treat skin sclerosis in SSc patients with satisfactory results. The main mechanisms include lymphocyte apoptosis, cytokine alteration, inhibition of collagen synthesis and increased collagenase production, and neovascularization, leading to the breakdown of collagen fibrils resulting in skin softening or even healing digital ulcers. Most studies reported that psoralen plus UVA (PUVA) and UVA1 phototherapy improved clinical outcomes vis-à-vis skin sclerosis, joint mobility, ulcers, and histopathology. PUVA and UVA1 phototherapy therefore have potential as an alternative or adjunctive therapy for patients with SSc.