Serum levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) according to disease duration. The analysis included patients with pre-systemic sclerosis (pre-SSc) (autoantibodies, capillaroscopy changes and Raynaud's phenomenon, but not yet fulfilling American College of Rheumatology criteria), patients with early SSc (diffuse SSc <3 years, limited SSc < 5 years) and patients with intermediate/late (imed/late) SSc (diffuse SSc ≥ 3 years, limited SSc ≥ 5 years). In all groups including patients with pre-SSc, VEGF levels were significantly increased compared with controls. No differences were found between patients with different disease duration. Data are shown as box plots, with upper and lower quartiles shaded. #P < 0.05.