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Ophthalmologe. 2006 Apr;103(4):302-7.

[Giant cell arteritis (temporal arteritis). Pathophysiology, immunology].

[Article in German]

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Abteilung Rheumatologie, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Carl-Neuberg-Strasse 1, 30625 Hannover.


The diagnosis of giant cell arteritis is established by temporal artery biopsy. The findings are those of a panarteritis with mononuclear infiltrates penetrating all layers of the arterial wall. Typically, activated T cells and macrophages are arranged in granulomas. Multinucleated giant cells, when present, are usually close to the fragmented internal elastic lamina. Often, the intimal layer is hyperplastic, leading to concentric occlusion of the lumen. The CD4(+) T cells are the main players in the disease process. T-cell activation in the arterial wall requires the presence of specialized antigen-presenting cells, the dendritic cells. The activation of monocytes and macrophages is responsible for the systemic inflammatory syndrome in giant cell arteritis and polymyalgia rheumatica. The blood vessel wall determines the site specificity of giant cell arteritis and provides the ground for the cell to cell interaction.

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