A new study entitled “Collagenous Colitis in Systemic Sclerosis: An Overlooked and Treatable Complication” published in Journal of Clinical Rheumatology highlights the possible occurrence of Collagenous Colitis with Systemic Sclerosis, and thus should be considered for therapeutic intervention by clinicians.
Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is an autoimmune disease characterized by skin thickening, but also other organs such as heart, lungs, GI tract, and kidneys. Collagenous colitis (CC) is an inflammatory bowel syndrome of unknown causes, but has been reported to occur in SS patients. However, whether CC can be considered a manifestation of SSc, although rare, or an independent condition is currently unknown.
In this study, the authors examined a case-report of a 68-year-old woman diagnosed with limited cutaneous SSc (lcSSc)-associated CC and performed histological and immunofluorescence studies in colon biopsy in comparison with cases of CC and healthy controls. The authors analyzed the expression for two markers — allograft inflammatory factor 1 and caveolin 1 expression – the first a marker for inflammation and the second for tissue fibrosis in SSc.
The researchers found in all CC biopsies an accumulation of collagen and a decreased expression of cave-in 1, both in agreement with SSc. An increase on allograft inflammatory factor 1 was only observed in the SSc-CC case-study subject and not in another CC and healthy control samples. These observations were also noted in six other literature references. However, more research is needed to understand a possible association between SSc and CC, the authors suggest that despite rare, the risk for CC in SSc patients should be considered when diagnosing these patients.