, Volume 22, Issue 8, pp 1083-1094
Date: 15 Mar 2007

What’s new in the aetiopathogenesis of vasculitis?

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The cause of the majority of childhood vasculitides is unknown although it is likely that a complex interaction between environmental factors and inherited host responses trigger the disease and determine the vasculitis phenotype. Epidemiological clues continue to implicate infectious triggers in Kawasaki syndrome (KS) and Henoch Schőnlein purpura (HSP). Several genetic polymorphisms have now been described in KS and HSP which predispose to disease or predict disease severity. Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA) are now known to be directly involved in the pathogenesis of vascular injury in ANCA-associated vasculitides, although why some individuals develop ANCA in the first instance is not yet understood. Endothelial injury and repair are active areas of research in vasculitis. It is now possible to track endothelial injury non-invasively in children with vasculitis using surrogate markers of endothelial injury. The vasculogenic pathways involved in vascular repair following vasculitis, including endothelial progenitor cells, are beginning to be studied. It is anticipated that an improved understanding of the aetiopathogenesis of vasculitis in the young will ultimately shape future novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches and will help us predict which children may develop premature arteriosclerosis in later life.