What Is Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease?
Connective tissue diseases (CTDs) are autoimmune diseases that affect the body’s connective tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, or blood vessels. Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma are examples of connective tissue diseases.
Undifferentiated connective tissue disease (UCTD) is a type of CTD that has characteristics of a connective tissue disease but does not meet the diagnostic criteria for one of the more than 200 specific types of CTD. Some individuals with UCTD will eventually develop a different type of CTD, but most will not.
Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms of UCTD vary greatly. They include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Joint pain
- Raynaud’s phenomenon
- Dryness of the eyes and mouth
- Hair loss
UCTD is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues. The exact cause of UCTD is unknown; however, in some cases, it may be related to genetics or environmental factors.
The risk factors for developing UCTD include the following:
- Family members with UCTD or another connective tissue disease
- Exposure to environmental toxins, such as cigarette smoke or air pollution
- Certain nutrient deficiencies, including vitamins C and D
- Exposure to ultraviolet radiation
- Certain infections