Scl-70 antibody

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If my son tested negative for this antibody when he was 7 and was diagnosed with localized scleroderma, could he now test positive for it 10 years later? Could he get systemic sclerosis?

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Hello Baycitybeth


Welcome to the forums although I am sorry your son has scleroderma.


Good news is that localised scleroderma is never fatal as it never affects the internal organs, it can still be something to contend with though. Localised scleroderma includes morphea and linear scleroderma encompassing en coup de sabre.Linear scleroderma is a line of thickened skin which can affect the bones and muscles underneath it, thus limiting the motion of the affected joints and muscles. It most often occurs in the arms, legs, or forehead, and may occur in more than one area. When it affects the forehead it's called en coup de sabre, it appears as an indented, vertical, colorless, line of skin on the forehead. The indentation looks as though the person may have been struck by a sword hence the name.


Morphea affects the skin and sometimes underlying muscles and joints, which can cause disability. It's most common form is a plaque-type that affects only skin and that often begins fading 3 to 5 years after onset, even without treatment. However the deeper, rapidly spreading forms of morphea require early diagnosis and, if possible, treatment by a scleroderma expert.


Currently, UVA1 phototherapy is widely recommended as a first-line treatment for morphea, and it is also used for treating well-established morphea.


It's worth pointing out that morphea can cause symptoms outside of skin involvement:


"A 2003 large multinational study found that 25% of localized patients had at least one other manifestation, such as osteoarticular, neurological (epilepsy, headache, peripheral neuropathy), ocular, vascular, gastrointestinal (heartburn), respiratory, cardiac, or renal. Less than 4% of the morphea patients had more than two non-cutaneous (non-skin) manifestations, and none of the patients in the study developed systemic scleroderma during the follow-up."


Now developing non skin manifestations does not mean that morphea is becoming systemic scleroderma, they are in fact two entirely separate diseases. However approximately 2% of morphea patients have anti-centromere (ACA) antibodies, which means that they may be at risk for also developing systemic scleroderma. This means that 98% of people do not develop the systemic form of the disease as well.


Antibodies can change from positive to negative but this does not necessarily mean much in practice. Blood tests are performed to look for specific antibodies to help achieve a diagnosis or to help rule scleroderma out. However blood tests alone should not be used to diagnose or rule out scleroderma because it is possible to have positive blood work but have no symptoms and never develop any, equally it is possible to have scleroderma, including systemic, but have negative blood work. I have diffuse systemic scleroderma, morphea and bullous morphea but my blood work is now and always has been negative.


I know there's a lot of information here but I wanted to cover everything as you don't say what type of localised scleroderma your son has. What type does he have and how are his symptoms?


Take care.

Amanda Thorpe

ISN Sclero Forums Senior Support Specialist

ISN Video Presentations Manager

ISN Blogger

(Retired) ISN Sclero Forums Assistant Manager

(Retired) ISN Email Support Specialist

International Scleroderma Network (ISN)

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Hi BayCityBeth,


Welcome to Sclero Forums.  I'm sorry your son has localized scleroderma.  As Amanda so kindly explained, it is very unlikely, but not entirely impossible, for him to develop the systemic form of scleroderma. Please keep in mind that I'm not a doctor and have no medical training at all, and verify everything I say with a reliable medical source.


Here's my question to you, though.  WHY did he have more antibody testing done, at this late stage?  Is he developing new or worsening symptoms that his doctor(s) found worrisome?  I'm sort of taking it, by reading into your original question, that he has now shown up positive for a possibly troublesome antibody. But generally speaking, the antibodies (or lack of them) aren't half so troubling as the symptoms (reasons) why the testing was done in the first place.


If you don't want to share the info, that's fine, too.  We understand. But please remember that we are always here for you, and your son, regardless of whether his condition/diagnosis stays the same or changes.



Warm Hugs,


Shelley Ensz

Founder and President

International Scleroderma Network (ISN)

Hotline and Donations: 1-800-564-7099


The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is

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Hi BayCityBeth,


I'm sorry to hear that your son has localised Scleroderma.


Both Shelley and Amanda have given you lots of useful help and advice, so I'll just give you a warm welcome to these forums and hope that now you've found us you'll continue posting and let us know how your son is progressing.


Kind regards,

Jo Frowde

ISN Assistant Webmaster

SD World Webmaster

ISN Sclero Forums Manager

ISN News Manager

ISN Hotline Support Specialist

International Scleroderma Network (ISN)

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