Pediatric Nephrology

, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp 533–541 | Cite as

The rheumatic poison: a survey of some published investigations of the immunopathogenesis of Henoch-Schönlein purpura

  • J. F. Knight
Invited Review


Laboratory studies of the pathophysiology of Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP) have become more numerous in recent years with the recognition of the disease's links with the mucosal immune system in general and IgA nephropathy in particular. There are weak genetic associations with C4 null phenotypes and with HLA B35 and DR4. Studies of plasma proteins in HSP patients show an increased IgA concentration, activation of the alternative pathway of complement and consumption of factor XIII. High molecular weight (polymeric) IgA has been detected in affected individuals, which some investigators have called “immune complexes”. Many patients synthesise an IgA rheumatoid factor in the acute phase, but other autoantibodies are largely absent. In vitro studies of lymphocytes from HSP patients have demonstrated an increased number of IgA-bearing and secreting B-cells, with altered T-cell regulation of antibody synthesis. While these observations point to immune dysregulation — primarily of IgA production — as a consistent feature of acute HSP, there is as yet insufficient information available to allow a consistent theory of pathogenesis to be formulated.

Key words

Henoch-Schönlein purpura Pathogenesis Genetics 


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Copyright information

© IPNA 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. F. Knight
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NephrologyThe Children's HospitalCamperdownAustralia

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