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ISSN: 1734-1922
Archives of Medical Science
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vol. 12

Searching for a good model for systemic sclerosis: the molecular profile and vascular changes occurring in UCD-200 chickens strongly resemble the early phase of human systemic sclerosis

Paola Cipriani
Paola Di Benedetto
Hermann Dietrich
Piero Ruscitti
Vasiliki Liakouli
Francesco Carubbi
Ilenia Pantano
Onorina Berardicurti
Roswitha Sgonc
Roberto Giacomelli

Arch Med Sci 2016; 12, 4: 828–843
Online publish date: 2016/07/01
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Introduction: Vascular injury and endothelial cell (EC) apoptosis are the earliest events in systemic sclerosis (SSc), before the onset of fibrosis, and stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGFA), endothelin-1 (ET-1) and platelet-derived growth factors (PDGF-BB) represent the key molecules to study the link between vascular injury and fibrosis during SSc. The University of California at Davis line 200 (UCD-200) chickens display the same hallmarks of human SSc: vascular occlusion, perivascular lymphocytic infiltration and fibrosis of skin and internal organs. In this study we assessed both cytokines and growth factors involved in the early phases of the UCD-200 chickens’ skin lesions, to determine whether these animals might represent an appropriate experimental model to study the pathogenesis of SSc.

Material and methods: Immunofluorescence analysis was performed on human SSc skin, human healthy control (hHC) skin, UCD-200 combs and HC H.B15 chicken (cHC) combs, using anti-SDF-1, CXCR4, VEGFA, VEGF receptor 1 (VEGFR1), VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2), ET-1, ET receptor A (ETAR), ET receptor B (ETBR), PDGF-BB, and PDGF receptor (PDGFR) antibodies. The plasma concentrations of SDF-1, VEGFA, ET-1 and PDGF-BB were determined by ELISA.

Results: All the molecules analyzed showed higher levels in SSc patients and UCD-200 chickens than in hHC and cHC. Furthermore, the levels of the assessed molecules paralleled the severity of comb involvement.

Conclusions: The molecular similarities between avian and human SSc, observed in this study, suggest that the UCD-200 chickens are an interesting model for translational approaches to SSc.

angiogenesis, fibrosis, animal model

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