Dermal mast cell density in fingers reflects severity of skin sclerosis in systemic sclerosis

Sonosuke Yukawa, Kunihiro Yamaoka, Norifumi Sawamukai, Shohei Shimajiri, Satoshi Kubo, Ippei Miyagawa, Koshiro Sonomoto, Kazuyoshi Saito, Yoshiya Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is characterized by skin sclerosis, which develops from the distal extremities and spreads to the trunk. Although several reports have implied the involvement of mast cells in SSc based on examination of forearm skin specimens, there have been no studies that examined digital skin specimens. Methods: Skin biopsies were obtained from the distal onethird of the forearm and between distal and proximal interphalangeal joints from 46 SSc patients, as well as from 29 non-SSc patients and normal controls. Dermal mast cells were detected histologically using NanoZoomer digital pathology. Results: Dermal mast cell density was significantly higher in both the forearms and fingers in SSc patients compared with non-SSc patients and normal controls. Digital dermal mast cell density was significantly higher in patients with diffuse cutaneous SSc than in local cutaneous SSc patients and also in the anti-topoisomerase I antibody-positive group than in the negative group, though such tendency was not noted in the forearm dermis. Interestingly, digital dermal mast cell density tended to correlate negatively but significantly with disease duration, suggesting the possible involvement of dermal mast cells in the early pathological process. Conclusion: Digital accumulation of toluidine blue- and/or c-Kit-positive dermal mast cells appears to be involved in the early stages of the pathological processes of SSc, especially in patients positive for anti-topoisomerase I antibody.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1151-1157
Number of pages7
JournalModern rheumatology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Nov


  • Inflammation
  • Mast cells
  • Pathology
  • Scleroderma
  • Systemic sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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