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Concept: Proteinase 3


Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis is a severe condition encompassing two major syndromes: granulomatosis with polyangiitis (formerly known as Wegener’s granulomatosis) and microscopic polyangiitis. Its cause is unknown, and there is debate about whether it is a single disease entity and what role ANCA plays in its pathogenesis. We investigated its genetic basis.

Concepts: Vasculitis, Wegener's granulomatosis, Autoimmune diseases, Arthritis, Granuloma, Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody, Proteinase 3, Vascular-related cutaneous conditions


Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCAs) are valuable laboratory markers used for the diagnosis of well-defined types of small-vessel vasculitis, including granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) and microscopic polyangiitis (MPA). According to the 1999 international consensus on ANCA testing, indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) should be used to screen for ANCAs, and samples containing ANCAs should then be tested by immunoassays for proteinase 3 (PR3)-ANCAs and myeloperoxidase (MPO)-ANCAs. The distinction between PR3-ANCAs and MPO-ANCAs has important clinical and pathogenic implications. As dependable immunoassays for PR3-ANCAs and MPO-ANCAs have become broadly available, there is increasing international agreement that high-quality immunoassays are the preferred screening method for the diagnosis of ANCA-associated vasculitis. The present Consensus Statement proposes that high-quality immunoassays can be used as the primary screening method for patients suspected of having the ANCA-associated vaculitides GPA and MPA without the categorical need for IIF, and presents and discusses evidence to support this recommendation.

Concepts: Present, Protease, Wegener's granulomatosis, Pascal, Immunofluorescence, Myeloperoxidase, Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody, Proteinase 3


ANCA vasculitis has an associated autoimmune response that produces ANCAs that induce distinct pathologic lesions. Pauci-immune necrotizing and crescentic GN is a frequent component of ANCA vasculitis. ANCA vasculitis is associated with ANCA specific for myeloperoxidase (MPO-ANCA) or proteinase 3 (PR3-ANCA). A diagnosis of ANCA vasculitis should always specify the serotype as MPO-ANCA positive, PR3-ANCA positive, or ANCA-negative. To fully characterize a patient, the serotype also should be accompanied by the clinicopathologic variant if this can be determined: microscopic polyangiitis, granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener), eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Churg-Strauss), or renal-limited vasculitis. ANCA vasculitis is most prevalent in individuals >50 years old. There are racial/ethnic and geographic influences on the prevalence, serotype frequencies, and clinicopathologic phenotypes. There is clinical, in vitro, and animal model evidence that ANCAs cause disease by activating neutrophils to attack small vessels. Immunomodulatory and immunosuppressive therapies are used to induce remission, maintain remission, and treat relapses. Over recent years, there have been major advances in optimizing treatment by minimizing toxic therapy and utilizing more targeted therapy.

Concepts: Disease, Immunology, Vasculitis, Wegener's granulomatosis, Glomerulonephritis, Autoimmune diseases, Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody, Proteinase 3


Better understanding of the pathogenesis and treatment of primary systemic vasculitides (PSV) has led to the development of many potentially clinically relevant biomarkers. Genome-wide association studies have highlighted that MHC class II polymorphisms may influence the development of particular anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA) serotypes, but not the clinical phenotype of ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV). Although ANCAs are overall poor biomarkers of disease activity, they may be useful for the prediction of flares of renal and/or pulmonary vasculitis. Moreover, patients with proteinase 3 (PR3)-AAV may respond better to rituximab than cyclophosphamide. Newer biomarkers of renal vasculitis in AAV include urinary soluble CD163, and may in the future reduce the requirement for renal biopsy. Better understanding of dysregulated neutrophil activation in AAV has led to the identification of novel biomarkers including circulating microparticles, and neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), although their clinical utility has not yet been realised. Studies examining endothelial injury and repair responses have additionally revealed indices that may have utility as disease activity and/or prognostic biomarkers. Last, next-generation sequencing technologies are revealing monogenic forms of vasculitis, such as deficiency of adenosine deaminase type 2 (DADA2), and are profoundly influencing the approach to the diagnosis and treatment of vasculitis in the young.

Concepts: Rheumatoid arthritis, Vasculitis, MHC class I, Adenosine deaminase, Wegener's granulomatosis, Myeloperoxidase, Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody, Proteinase 3


The updated nomenclature for vasculitis defines this varied group of disorders by aetiology, specific features of pathogenesis and clinical symptoms; diagnostic and classification criteria for clinical practice are in development. Here, I review some important advances in the management of vasculitis within the category of anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis (AAV), which encompasses microscopic polyangiitis (MPA), granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) and eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA). The clinical approach to the management of the patient with AAV should include testing for ANCA specificity; proteinase 3 (PR3)-specific ANCAs are most often associated with GPA, whereas myeloperoxidase (MPO)-ANCAs are usually associated with MPA. Also important to the management of AAV is an assessment of the disease stage and severity, to enable tailored treatment based on an algorithm derived from controlled-trial data. Remaining questions pertain to the dosage and duration of corticosteroid treatment, the selection of patients for, and duration of, maintenance treatment after induction of remission, and the identification of safer and more effective therapies than are currently in use. Outcome measures should assess not only disease activity, but also damage and quality of life. Infections, cardiovascular events and malignancies also contribute to outcome, and their prevention should therefore be part of the clinical approach to managing patients with AAV.

Concepts: Immune system, Medicine, Symptom, Wegener's granulomatosis, Myeloperoxidase, Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody, Proteinase 3, SI derived unit


The anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitides (AAV) are a heterogeneous group of rare syndromes characterized by necrotizing inflammation of small and medium-sized blood vessels and the presence of ANCAs. Several clinicopathological classification systems exist that aim to define homogeneous groups among patients with AAV, the main syndromes being microscopic polyangiitis (MPA), granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) and eosinophilic GPA (EGPA). Two main types of ANCA can be detected in patients with AAV. These ANCAs are defined according to their autoantigen target, namely leukocyte proteinase 3 (PR3) and myeloperoxidase (MPO). Patients with GPA are predominantly PR3-ANCA-positive, whereas those with MPA are predominantly MPO-ANCA-positive, although ANCA specificity overlaps only partially with these clinical syndromes. Accumulating evidence suggests that ANCA specificity could be better than clinical diagnosis for defining homogeneous groups of patients, as PR3-ANCA and MPO-ANCA are associated with different genetic backgrounds and epidemiology. ANCA specificity affects the phenotype of clinical disease, as well as the patient’s initial response to remission-inducing therapy, relapse risk and long-term prognosis. Thus, the classification of AAV by ANCA specificity rather than by clinical diagnosis could convey clinically useful information at the time of diagnosis.

Concepts: Inflammation, Blood, Blood vessel, Wegener's granulomatosis, Myeloperoxidase, Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody, Proteinase 3


In patients with GN or vasculitis, ANCAs are directed against proteinase 3 (PR3) or myeloperoxidase (MPO). The differences between PR3-ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV) and MPO-AAV described in the past have been supplemented during the last decade. In this review, we discuss the differences between these two small-vessel vasculitides, focusing especially on possible etiologic and pathophysiologic differences. PR3-AAV is more common in northern parts of the world, whereas MPO-AAV is more common in southern regions of Europe, Asia, and the Pacific, with the exception of New Zealand and Australia. A genetic contribution has been extensively studied, and there is a high prevalence of the HLA-DPB1*04:01 allele in patients with PR3-AAV as opposed to patients with MPO-AAV and/or healthy controls. Histologically, MPO-AAV and PR3-AAV are similar but show qualitative differences when analyzed carefully. Clinically, both serotypes are difficult to distinguish, but quantitative differences are present. More organs are affected in PR3-AAV, whereas renal limited vasculitis occurs more often in patients with MPO-AAV. For future clinical trials, we advocate classifying patients by ANCA serotype as opposed to the traditional disease type classification.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Vasculitis, Wegener's granulomatosis, New Zealand, Pacific Ocean, Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody, Proteinase 3


The value of measuring ANCA during follow-up to predict a relapse is controversial. On the basis of recently obtained pathophysiologic insights, we postulated that measuring ANCA is useful in patients with renal involvement but is less valuable in patients with nonrenal disease. One hundred sixty-six consecutive patients with ANCA-associated vasculitis, positive for either proteinase 3 (PR3)-ANCA or myeloperoxidase (MPO)-ANCA, were included in our study, followed at regular intervals, and tested for PR3-ANCA and MPO-ANCA. In this cohort, 104 patients had renal involvement (72 with PR3-ANCA, 32 with MPO-ANCA) and 62 patients had nonrenal disease (36 with PR3-ANCA, 26 with MPO-ANCA). During an average (±SD) follow-up of 49±33 months and 18±14 ANCA measurements, 89 ANCA rises and 74 relapses were recorded. ANCA rises correlated with relapses in patients who presented with renal involvement (hazard ratio [HR], 11.09; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 5.01 to 24.55), but in comparison, associated only weakly with relapses in patients who presented with nonrenal disease (HR, 2.79; 95% CI, 1.30 to 5.98). In conclusion, longitudinal ANCA measurements may be useful in patients with renal involvement but is less valuable in patients with nonrenal disease.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Measurement, Interval finite element, Protease, Value, Wegener's granulomatosis, Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody, Proteinase 3


Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA) play a central role in the diagnostic and pathogenesis of patients with small vessel vasculitis, so called ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV). ANCA in these diseases are almost always directed against proteinase 3 (PR3-ANCA) and myeloperoxidase (MPO-ANCA). Most laboratories worldwide use as standard the indirect immunofluorescence technique (IFT), on human neutrophils, to screen for ANCA, and then confirm positive IFT results with antigen specific immunoassyas for PR3- and MPO-ANCA. New guidelines for ANCA testing have been developed based on a recent European multicentre study, and according to the revised 2017 international consensus recommendations, testing for ANCA in small vessel vasculitis can be done by PR3- and MPO-ANCA immunoassays, without the categorical need for IIF. The clinical utility of ANCA depends on type of assay performed and the appropiate ordering of testing the right clinical setting. Accurate identification of all patients with AAV and the avoidance of misdiagnosis can be achieved using a “gating policy” based on clinical information given to the laboratory at the time of request.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, ELISA, Wegener's granulomatosis, Immunofluorescence, Myeloperoxidase, Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody, Proteinase 3


The classification of anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis (AAV) remains controversial. The main objective of this study was to define the respective values of ANCA serotype-based classification, clinicopathological classification, and histopathological classification in predicting patient and renal outcomes in a Spanish cohort of patients with ANCA with specificity for myeloperoxidase, MPO-ANCA, versus ANCA with specificity for proteinase 3, PR3-ANCA. Two hundred and forty-five patients with ANCA-AAV and biopsy-proven renal involvement diagnosed between 2000 and 2104 were recruited in 12 nephrology services. Clinical and histologic data, renal outcomes, and mortality were analyzed. We applied the Chapel Hill Consensus Conference definition with categories for granulomatosis with the polyangiitis (GPA) and microscopic polyangiitis (MPA), the classification based on ANCA specificity, and the histopathological classification proposed in 2010. Eighty-two percent were MPO-ANCA positive and 18.0% PR3-ANCA positive. Altogether, 82.9% had MPA and 17.1% GPA. The median follow-up was 43.2 months (0.1-169.3). Neither ANCA-based serological nor clinical classification was predictive of renal outcomes or patient survival on bivariate or multivariate Cox regression analysis. Histopathological classification was found to predict development of end-stage renal disease (p = 0.005) in Kaplan-Meier analysis. ANCA specificity was more predictive of relapse than clinicopathological classification in multivariate analysis (HR 2.086; 95% CI 1.046-4.158; p = 0.037). In our Spanish cohort, a majority of patients had an MPO-ANCA-AAV. A classification based on ANCA specificity has a higher predictive value for relapse occurrence and could be used for decision-making with respect to induction treatment and maintenance therapies.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Chronic kidney disease, Kidney, Nephrology, Prediction, Wegener's granulomatosis, Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody, Proteinase 3