Microscopic polyangiitis (microscopic polyarteritis)

J. C. Jennette, D. B. Thomas, R. J. Falk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Microscopic polyangiitis ("microscopic polyarteritis") is a form of necrotizing small vessel vasculitis that most often affects venules, capillaries, arterioles, and small arteries, although it occasionally involves medium-sized arteries. Microscopic polyangiitis is a more appropriate name than microscopic polyarteritis because some patients have no evidence for arterial involvement. The absence or paucity of immunoglobulin localization in vessel walls distinguishes microscopic polyangiitis from immune complex mediated small vessel vasculitis, such as Henoch-Schönlein purpura and cryoglobulinemic vasculitis. Clinical, epidemiological, and pathologic differences warrant the separation of microscopic polyangiitis from polyarteritis nodosa on the basis of involvement of capillaries and venules by the former but not the latter. Pauci-immune necrotizing and crescentic glomerulonephritis, and hemorrhagic pulmonary capillaritis are common in patients with microscopic polyangiitis. Microscopic polyangiitis is the most common cause for pulmonary-renal vasculitic syndrome. The vasculitis in patients with microscopic polyangiitis is pathologically indistinguishable from the vasculitis of Wegener's granulomatosis and Churg-Strauss syndrome. Granulomatous inflammation distinguishes Wegener's granulomatosis from microscopic polyangiitis. Asthma and eosinophilia distinguish Churg-Strauss syndrome from microscopic polyangiitis. Microscopic polyangiitis, Wegener's granulomatosis, and Churg-Strauss syndrome are all associated with circulating antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-13
Number of pages11
JournalSeminars in Diagnostic Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 17 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • ANCA
  • Leukocytoclastic angiitis
  • Microscopic polyangiitis
  • Microscopic polyarteritis
  • Pulmonary renal syndrome
  • Small vessel vasculitis
  • Wegener's granulomatosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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