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1. Pathol a hardening or thickening of organs, tissues, or vessels from chronic inflammation, abnormal growth of fibrous tissue, or degeneration of the myelin sheath of nerve fibres, or (esp on the inner walls of arteries) deposition of fatty plaques
2. the hardening of a plant cell wall or tissue by the deposition of lignin
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the hardening of an organ or tissue in humans and animals caused by connective-tissue overgrowth. Functionally valuable elements of the parenchyma of a sclerosed organ are destroyed and replaced by mature and sometimes coarse-fibered connective tissue, which often contains deposits of amyloid, hyalin, and lime. New connective tissue is usually formed by the reproduction of fibroblasts (connective-tissue cells) and by the intensified formation of collagen molecules by the fibroblasts.

In cases of sclerosis, parenchymal elements may be destroyed by inflammatory processes that are usually chronic in nature, including tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, and syphilis, and by circulatory disturbances, including passive congestion. Parenchymal elements may also be destroyed by involutional changes, for example, the postpartum sclerosis of the corpus lutea, and by changes associated with age and by metabolic disturbances. Sclerosis may be focal or diffuse. The proliferated connective tissue may become corrugated, resulting in the deformation of the organ, or cirrhosis. During cirrhosis, the hardening and reduction of an organ are accompanied by surface changes, including alternating outpouchings and invaginations, such as in a granular kidney or nodular liver.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Hardening of a tissue, especially by proliferation of fibrous connective tissue.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.