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Int J Clin Lab Res. 1999;29(1):8-13.

Takayasu's arteritis: a cell-mediated large-vessel vasculitis.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences and Human Oncology, University of Bari Medical School, Italy.


Takayasu's arteritis is an idiopathic, systemic inflammatory disease, typically involving the aorta and its main branches. Cell-mediated autoimmunity has been strongly implicated in its pathogenesis. Early or active-stage pathology consists of continuous or patchy granulomatous inflammation, which progresses to intimal and adventitial fibrosis and scarring of the media. Multiple focal or segmental stenoses result and aneurysms may occasionally occur. Clinical presentation is heterogeneous, ranging from asymptomatic to catastrophic. In some patients, constitutional signs and symptoms indicating a systemic inflammatory response are observed, usually in the early stages. Specific features reflect arterial involvement, and result from end-organ or limb ischemia; they include vascular, neurological, cardiac, and pulmonary manifestations. The course of Takayasu's arteritis usually extends for many years with varying degrees of activity. Takayasu's arteritis has a worldwide distribution, with the greatest prevalence in eastern countries. Women of reproductive age are preferentially affected, but the illness is being recognized with increasing frequency in males. Variable phenotypes are recently emerging in different ethnic groups. Diagnosis is based on clinical features and vascular imaging studies that document typical patterns of stenoses or aneurysms of the aorta and its primary branches. Assessment of the activity of Takayasu's arteritis is imprecise, in that clinical features and acute-phase reactants do not accurately reflect active blood vessel inflammation. High-dose corticosteroids alone or a cytotoxic agent in addition to a corticosteroid may be effective in treating active disease. Critical lesions may require correction by surgery or interventional radiology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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