Connective tissue consists of cells separated by the extracellular matrix, whose composition and amount vary according to age, to functional requirements, and to the presence of pathologic conditions. Within this non-random macromolecular assembly, collagens, elastin, proteoglycans and structural glycoproteins are mutually interdependent and modifications of one component, by extrinsic (environmental) and/or intrinsic (systemic, genetic, age-related) factors, may have consequences on the tissue as a whole. Since decades, different microscopical techniques have been applied mainly for diagnostic purposes and for detailed descriptions of changes occurring in cells and in matrix components. More recently, in order to dissect the molecular complexity of the matrix network, to analyse the interactions between cells and matrix and to look for modulators of cell phenotype, histomorphologic investigations have been implemented with proteomic studies that allow to identify possible diagnostic markers, and to better understand patho-mechanisms enabling the design of novel therapeutic strategies. Therefore, the progressively expanding, although incomplete, knowledge on connective tissue biology, sheds new light on the pathogenesis of diseases affecting single molecules (i.e. collagenopathies, mucopolysaccharidoses, elastinopathies) and discloses the importance of matrix components as fundamental regulators of cell phenotype, in relation, for instance, to the aging process and/or to cancer development and progression. Few examples will be presented demonstrating the promises of proteomics as a technique leading to the discovery of new therapies and possibly to the development of individualized treatments for a better patient care.
Connective tissue and diseases: from morphology to proteomics towards the development of new therapeutic approaches / Quaglino, Daniela; Boraldi, Federica; Annovi, Giulia; Guerra, Deanna; Ronchetti, Ivonne. - In: GASTROENTEROLOGY AND HEPATOLOGY FROM BED TO BENCH. - ISSN 2008-4234. - STAMPA. - 2:(2009), pp. S56-S65.