Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (MCTD) [also called Sharp's Syndrome] is an autoimmune disorder that causes overlapping features of three connective tissue disorders: lupus, scleroderma, and polymyositis. People with MCTD experience symptoms of each of these three diseases. In many cases, this mixed set of symptoms is eventually dominated by symptoms characteristic of one of the three illnesses, especially scleroderma or lupus. MCTD may also have features of rheumatoid arthritis. This condition is most often diagnosed in women in their 20's and 30's. Occasionally, children are affected.
The connective tissues are the structural portions of our body that essentially hold the cells of the body together. These tissues form a framework or matrix for the body. The connective tissues are composed of two major structural
proteins, collagen and elastin. Connective tissue diseases are disorders featuring abnormalities involving the collagen and elastin.
Since MCTD overlaps different connective tissue disorders, there are many different symptoms depend on the organs involved, the degree of inflammation and the general degree of disease activity. Some symptoms include swollen fingers, arthritis, muscle inflammation, lung abnormalities, neurological damage and skin problems.
Treatment of MCTD is directed at suppressing immune-related inflammation of tissues by using anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive medications. Corticosteroids (for example, prednisone) are usually effective, especially when the disease is diagnosed early.