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Microscopic Polyangiitis

  • Author: Mehran Farid-Moayer, MD; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FACP, FASN  more...
 
Updated: Dec 21, 2014
 

Background

Microscopic polyangiitis (MPA) is vasculitis of small vessels. It was initially considered as a microscopic form of polyarteritis nodosa (PAN). In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology developed classification criteria for several types of systemic vasculitis but did not distinguish between polyarteritis nodosa and microscopic polyarteritis nodosa.[1] In 1994, a group of experts held an international consensus conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to attempt to redefine the classification of small vessel vasculitides.[2, 3]

Vasculitis in small vessels, including arterioles, capillaries, and venules, a characteristic of MPA, is absent in polyarteritis nodosa. This absence is the proposed distinguishing feature between MPA and PAN. Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener granulomatosis), MPA, and Churg-Strauss syndrome comprise a category of small vessel vasculitis related to antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCAs) and are characterized by a paucity of immune deposits.

MPA and granulomatosis with polyangiitis seem to be part of a clinical spectrum. However, an absence of granuloma formation and sparing of the upper respiratory tract are features of MPA. These features help to distinguish MPA from granulomatosis with polyangiitis, although the two conditions are occasionally difficult to distinguish.

The image below depicts pulmonary alveolar capillaritis.

Pulmonary alveolar capillaritis. Pulmonary alveolar capillaritis.

See Vasculitis: Case Presentations, a Critical Images slideshow, for more information on clinical, histologic, and radiographic imaging findings in various forms of vasculitis.

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Pathophysiology

Vasculitis is inflammation of the vessel walls. This may lead to necrosis and bleeding. MPA is characterized by pauci-immune, necrotizing, small vessel vasculitis without clinical or pathological evidence of granulomatous inflammation.

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Etiology

Based on current understanding of the inflammatory response, cytokine-mediated changes in the expression and function of adhesion molecules coupled with inappropriate activation of leukocytes and endothelial cells are postulated to be the primary factors influencing the degree and location of vessel damage in the vasculitis syndromes. However, the stimuli that initiate these pathologic inflammatory changes are not well understood.

ANCA may play a role in the pathogenesis of MPA.

Case reports have described an association of MPA with medications such as propylthiouracil and with diseases such as primary biliary cirrhosis.[4, 5]

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Epidemiology

In the United States, the annual incidence of MPA is 3.6 cases per million persons. The prevalence is one to three cases per 100,000 population.

Internationally, the incidence is approximately two cases per 100,000 persons in the United Kingdom and approximately one case per 100,000 persons in Sweden.

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Race-, Sex-, and Age-related Demographics

Demographic features of MPA in the United States are as follows:

  • MPA is more frequent among white persons than black persons
  • Males are affected slightly more frequently than females
  • The age of onset is approximately 50 years
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Prognosis

With treatment, 90% of patients with MPA improve and 75% achieve complete remission. The 5-year survival rate is approximately 75%. MPA carries a worse long-term survival rate than granulomatosis with polyangiitis or Churg-Strauss syndrome, probably because of renal involvement at disease onset.

Of patients with MPA, 30% relapse in 1-2 years.

Long-term damage in a study of 296 patients with microscopic polyangiitis or granulomatosis with polyangiitis, as measured with the Vasculitis Damage Index (VDI), was associated with the severity of initial disease, older age, the number of relapses, and duration of glucocorticoid treatment. Patients were followed for 7 years post-diagnosis. Mean duration of glucocorticoid treatment was 40.4 months.[7]

In another study of 151 patients with ANCA-associated vasculitis, patients presenting with pulmonary involvement at baseline had higher damage and disease activity scores at 6, 12 and 24 months follow-up. Patients presenting with lung involvement had an increased risk of developing cardiovascular and renal involvement and were more likely to develop pulmonary fibrosis.[8]

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Mehran Farid-Moayer, MD Adjunct Clinical Faculty, Department of Psychiatry, Sleep Disorders Clinic, Stanford Medical Center

Mehran Farid-Moayer, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, American Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Spencer T Lowe, MD Rheumatologist, Private Practice, Peninsula Medical Group, Burlingame, CA

Spencer T Lowe, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Rheumatology, California Medical Association, International Society for Clinical Densitometry

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Elliot Goldberg, MD Dean of the Western Pennsylvania Clinical Campus, Professor, Department of Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine

Elliot Goldberg, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Physicians, American College of Rheumatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Vecihi Batuman, MD, FACP, FASN Huberwald Professor of Medicine, Section of Nephrology-Hypertension, Tulane University School of Medicine; Chief, Renal Section, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System

Vecihi Batuman, MD, FACP, FASN is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Society of Hypertension, American Society of Nephrology, International Society of Nephrology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Bryan L Martin, DO Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education, Designated Institutional Official, Associate Medical Director, Director, Allergy Immunology Program, Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, Ohio State University College of Medicine

Bryan L Martin, DO is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, American College of Osteopathic Internists, American College of Physicians, American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Pulmonary alveolar capillaritis.
Histopathology of alveolar hemorrhage in alveolar capillaritis.
Crescentic glomerulonephritis.
Focal segmental glomerulonephritis.
Histopathology of leukocytoclastic angiitis.
Leukocytoclastic angiitis.
 
 
 
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