ANCA (anti-neutrophil cytoplasm antibody)-associated small vessel vasculitis is an inflammatory condition associated with the production of autoantibodies to neutrophil cytoplasmic components. The disorder results in destruction of the microvasculature, infiltration of neutrophils into tissues, which is followed later by mononuclear cells, leading to injury and the formation of granulomatous lesions. Initiators for the disease are undetermined but a pro-inflammatory environment is required. Other influencing factors may include environmental triggers, genetic propensity or infectious agents. The primary cellular event in the condition involves the neutrophils, which are likely to be responsible for the majority of tissue injury. Binding of the autoantibody to neutrophils initiates cell activation via a complex intracellular signalling cascade, culminating in the release of pro-inflammatory mediators, proteolytic enzymes and reactive oxygen species. Adhesion of neutrophils to endothelial cells is observed in vitro and more investigations in this area may explain the focussing of the disease to certain vessels/tissues. Current treatment regimens have substantial toxicity. Although newer developments are an improvement there is still a pressing need for more targeted therapies, which could be provided by extrapolating information emerging from basic scientific research.

You do not currently have access to this content.