Avoidance of Harm From Treatment for ANCA-Associated Vasculitis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Birmingham


Purpose of review With established immunosuppressant treatment regimens for anti-neutrophil cytoplasm antibody-associated vasculitides (AAV), prognosis has significantly improved. The mainstay of treatment still comprises high-dose corticosteroids and cyclophosphamide for severe forms, although rituximab is being increasingly utilised instead of cyclophosphamide as induction therapy. AAV patients experience an excess of infections, malignancies and cardiovascular events as compared to the general population, which is a combination of the systemic inflammatory process associated with vasculitis and the adverse events from treatment. Recent findings Successful therapy should focus on suppressing disease activity and minimising treatment-related toxicity. Infection is the largest contributor to morbidity and mortality in the first year of treatment, and annual pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations, Pneumocystis jiroveci prophylaxis and tuberculosis (TB) and Hepatitis B virus screening are advised. Patients on high-dose corticosteroid treatment should have regular blood sugar monitoring, a FRAX assessment with vitamin D and calcium supplementation, consideration of prophylaxis for gastric ulcers and a cardiovascular risk assessment. Patients who are treated with cyclophosphamide could also receive MESNA to reduce the risk of chemical cystitis. Cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and azathioprine all require blood monitoring schedules due to the risk of bone marrow suppression, liver and renal toxicity. Hypogammaglobulinaemia is a recognised risk of rituximab treatment. Patients of reproductive age need to be counselled on the infertility risks with cyclophosphamide and the teratogenicity associated with it, methotrexate and mycophenolate mofetil. Summary A greater focus on identifying clinical and biological markers that will help identify those patients at greatest risk of relapse, e.g. GPA and PR3-ANCA specificity, from those patients at greatest risk of toxicity, e.g. increasing age and declining GFR, is required to allow treatment to be tailored accordingly.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-243
Number of pages14
JournalCurrent Treatment Options in Rheumatology
Issue number4
Early online date13 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • anti-neutrophil cytoplasm antiibody-associated vasculitides (AAV) , adverse events , cyclophosphamide , rituximab

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