What causes granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA)?

Updated: Aug 31, 2021
  • Author: Christopher L Tracy, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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The pathologic hallmarks of GPA are vasculitis of the small- to medium-sized vessels, "geographic" necrosis, and granulomatous inflammation, particularly in the airways. The initial pathologic lesion is that of the granuloma believed to be caused by cellular immune processes.

Environmental exposures, including respiratory tract infections, have been implicated as inciting factors for granuloma formation. A better understanding of the progression from granuloma to vasculitis may shed light on the possible etiology and pathogenesis of GPA. It is probable that a complex interaction exists between the environment and host factors, many of which are genetically determined. Cellular immune processes are also involved in tissue injury owing to the inflammatory cascade.

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