Collagen Vascular Diseases

Also known as: connective tissue diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, dermatomyositis, psoriatic arthritis, scleroderma, polyarteritis nodosa, systemic lupus erythematosus, Marfan syndrome and others.

What are collagen vascular diseases?

Collagen is the main protein in connective tissue. Connective tissue are fibers and cells which hold body parts together and may be rigid (like bone) or compliant like tendons/ligaments or muscles, or in-between like cartilage. When this tissue is abnormal some of diseases that occur involve many organ systems including skeleton, lungs, eyes, heart and blood vessels.

Collagen cushions, protects, supports, and strengthens the body’s tissues and organs. There appear to be at least 200 conditions that fall under the umbrella of collagen vascular disease, including rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus, among others.

What causes collagen vascular diseases?

There are a number of different types of collagen vascular disease. There are those that are caused by inherited (genetic) abnormalities or by environmental factors. Many collagen vascular diseases occur due to an autoimmune response in the body. These occur when the body’s normally protective immune cells mistakenly identify the body’s tissue as a foreign material, and attack it with an inflammatory response. This inflammation damages the tissue and its organ involved. What environmental factor/s trigger the autoimmune reaction, however, is unknown.

What are the signs/symptoms of collagen vascular diseases?

Signs/symptoms of collagen vascular diseases vary depending on the type of collagen vascular disease and what parts of the body are involved.

Common symptoms of the group of diseases include:

  • body aches
  • stiffness
  • muscle and joint pain
  • skin rashes, fatigue
  • weakness
  • fever
  • and many others.

What are collagen vascular diseases care options? 

Corticosteroids and immunosuppressants drugs are used to regulate the abnormal immune system.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: September 09, 2020 11:17 AM

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