Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Connective tissue disease is the group of diseases that influence connective tissues of the body such as skin, blood, etc. It causes inflammation of the protein found in the connective tissue. These proteins are elastin and collagen. Elastin is found in ligaments and skin that helps in stretching like a rubber band. Collagen is found in skin, cornea, blood, blood vessels, cartilage, tendon, and bone. This protein binds the cells together.

How Does Connective Tissue Disease Affect The Body?

Connective tissue disease causes inflammation of these proteins and affects their connection with aligned body parts or organs. Women are more affected by them than men. Connective tissue disease affects skin, muscle, fat, blood, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, bone, cartilage, eye, heart, lungs, kidneys, and even gastrointestinal tract. This can be understood in the following ways-

Skin- this disease can cause inflammation of the skin, make them thick, fragile and less stretchy. Scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, polymyositis, etc. are the types of connective tissue disease that affect the skin. In epidermolysis bullosa, the skin is so weak that blisters or tears appear in the skin even with the friction of clothes.

Eyes- it causes dryness of the eyes (Sjogren's syndrome) and abnormal positioning of the eye lens (Marfan syndrome). In osteogenesis imperfecta, blue or gray tint appear in the white of the eye.

Blood And Blood Vessels- it affects blood and blood vessels. It causes inflammation of the blood vessels that can impact the flow of blood to various organs and tissues of the body. In vasculitis, blood vessels get inflamed. In Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, the blood vessels are weakened.

Muscles And Tendons- the connective tissue disease weakens the muscles and tendons. It may also lower down the muscle mass due to collagen abnormalities. It is seen in osteogenesis imperfecta and polymyositis.

Bones, Cartilage, Ligaments, And Joints- connective tissue disease cause inflammation of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and joints. Immune system sometimes attacks bones, cartilage, ligaments and synovial membrane around the joints like in rheumatoid arthritis. In systemic lupus erythematosus, osteogenesis imperfecta, etc, they are affected.

Lungs- this disease may cause accumulation of fluid in the lungs leading to shortness of breath (occurs in SLE). Rheumatoid arthritis, it may lead to the formation of nodules in the lungs. It may also cause lung scarring and injuries to blood vessels of the lungs as seen in scleroderma. This causes breathlessness and shortness of breath. In polymyositis, muscles of lungs are affected leading to deep breaths and coughing.

Heart- aorta gets enlarged in Marfan syndrome eventually leading to its rupture. Heart valves also get inflamed due to Marfan syndrome and other connective tissue disease leading heart problems.

Gastrointestinal Tract- it is affected most in epidermolysis bulbosa resulting in its symptoms. in Sjogren’s syndrome, digestion problems are increased due to lack of secretion of juices in the GIT.

Kidneys- the muscles of the bladder are affected in epidermolysis bulbosa. Blood flow is affected in vasculitis and other connective diseases.

A connective tissue disease is a group of disorders characterized by inflammation and damage of protein found in the. Two proteins namely collagen and elastin get affected that cause a variety of problems in various organs. Its causes are unclear. Genetic predisposition, autoimmune responses, and others may trigger this disease. It affects skin, bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, joints, eyes, digestive tract, lungs, and heart. The inflammatory changes of these proteins cause inflammation, fluid buildup and slow damage of these organs, leading various serious problems. Its symptoms involve damaged skin, dry eyes, shortness of breath, painful joints and many more.

Conclusion

Connective tissue disease as the name suggests causes problems with connective tissue leading to various problems. It is caused by inflammation, and degeneration of the muscles, bones, blood and blood vessels. It affects various organs of the body as discussed above.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 5, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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