Collagen vascular disease is used to describe a group of diseases that affect the connective tissues of the body. Connective tissues are the framework of our body. It consists of collagen and elastin fibres. Collagen is what makes our tissue tougher and stronger and elastin makes it stretchable. When there is a problem with your connective tissue, your collagen and elastin will be affected, hence the strength of our tissues and its elasticity will be compromised.
There are many types of disease that belongs to the collagen vascular disease. These diseases are autoimmune in nature. It means that their immune system does not recognize itself and its immune response attacks its own tissues and cells. It includes Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Dermatomyositis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Polyarteritis Nodosa, Scheroderma, and Ankylosing Spondylitis.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE is an autoimmune disease that affects any part of the body. The immune system does not recognize its own tissues for its attack that leads to tissue damage and inflammation. It harms the lungs, heart, liver, joints, kidneys, skin, nervous system, and blood vessels.
Attacks from this disease are unpredictable and may be treated by immunosuppressant drugs such as corticosteroids, cyclophosphamide, and other drugs that cause immunosuppression. There is no cure until now and this disease could be fatal to the person who has it. Next type of collagen vascular disease is Dermatomyositis. It is a disease that affects the muscles. It causes skin rash and inflammation.
The cause for this type of disease is still unknown. Specialists think that this can be due to immune system problems or muscle infection. It is sometimes present to patients having cancer in their body such as in the abdomen and lungs. In Rheumatoid Arthritis, the membranes surrounding the ends and joints of bones, and the connective tissue are the first ones to be affected by the autoimmunity.
This disease starts by mistaking the collagen, a protein fibre that makes our joints tougher and flexible, as a foreign antigen. As a result, the body’s immune system will produce large antibodies to fight the foreign invader. Cytokines, which are produced by the leukocytes when there is foreign material in our body, does not cause damage in small doses. However, large doses can cause serious damage to the joints. It may cause joint damage and inflammation resulting to joint deformities.
Another type of collagen vascular disease is the Psoriatic Arthritis. It is a type of arthritis that comes with psoriasis of the skin. Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red patches all over the body. Its cause is still unknown. Polyarteritis Nodosa is a blood vessel disease that causes the arteries, both small and medium, to become damaged and swollen.
The cause is the same as the other diseases, unknown. It happens when the immune response attacks the affected arteries. When the arteries are damaged, tissue in the body would not get the nourishment and oxygen that it needed to perform their duties.
The last two types that are included in the umbrella of collagen vascular disease are Scheroderma and Ankylosing Spondylitis. The cause for these two is also unknown. Scleroderma is an autoimmune and connective tissue disease. It involves changes in the blood vessels, internal organs, skin, and muscles. In this disease the immune system attacks and destroys its own tissues. Ankylosing Spondylitis is a disease that causes inflammation of joints that are between the spinal bones and pelvis. This disease may cause them to join together. Due to this disease, person can be immobile in the lower spine.