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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2002 Jan;109(1):S1-19.

Asthma therapies and Churg-Strauss syndrome.

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Pulmonary and Critical Care Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The pulmonary vasculitides are a group of rare but serious disorders that require early recognition, accurate diagnosis, and effective therapy. Churg-Strauss syndrome (CSS) is classified as small vessel vasculitis. Four different definitions for the diagnosis of CSS have been developed: (1) the pathologic criteria put forth by Churg and Strauss, (2) the criteria based on clinical grounds from Lanham and colleagues, (3) the criteria based on clinical grounds from the American College of Rheumatology, and (4) the criteria from the Chapel Hill Consensus Conference, which closely concur with the Churg and Strauss definition. It is apparent that cessation, diminution, or even a switch from low-dose systemic to inhaled corticosteroid therapy can precipitate the appearance of CSS. The term forme fruste has been used to indicate that the signs and symptoms of CSS were (inadvertently) suppressed by cortico-steroids. The clinical risk factors for CSS are moderately severe or severe asthma, chronic sinusitis, or reductions in systemic corticosteroid therapy. Differential diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing monitoring of CSS therapeutic responses are reviewed. The introduction of leukotriene modifiers and high-potency inhaled corticosteroids have allowed control of asthma symptoms, which results in avoidance or reduction in oral corticosteroid use. The advent of these agents has been associated with reports of CSS appearing in patients with asthma. The available data regarding the association of CSS and antiasthma agents are most consistent with the unmasking of a previously contained pathologic condition (forme-fruste CSS) or disease that progresses because systemic corticosteroids were avoided. Early recognition and immunosuppressive therapy are the keystones of successful treatment of this rare disorder.

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