Interaction of the host immune system with certain substances found in the environment will, in the presence of other unknown factors such as genetic susceptibility, lead to aberrant immune responses manifested as disease. In most of the conditions discussed above, simple removal from exposure to the offending agent does not lead to resolution. This suggests that an ongoing response has been triggered which cannot immediately be turned off, perhaps due to continued presence of the substance such as in human adjuvant disease where paraffin or silicone has been found in lymphoid tissue.
Scleroderma remains a disease of uncertain cause for which our present treatment is inadequate. Illnesses presented in this chapter resemble the natural form of the disease in many ways and may provide useful insight into its pathogenesis. In the short term, recognition of exposure to environmental hazards which appear to pose risk will prevent additional cases of disabling illness. Study of chemically induced forms of scleroderma may, in the future, allow us to predict potential toxicity of chemically similar compounds. If we could learn how they trigger disease, researchers might be able to apply the information to understanding the pathogenesis of naturally-occurring scleroderma.