Henoch-Schönlein purpura in children. Report of 100 patients and review of the literature

Medicine (Baltimore). 1999 Nov;78(6):395-409. doi: 10.1097/00005792-199911000-00005.


Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP) is an acute leukocytoclastic vasculitis that primarily affects children. In the current report, the author presents the clinical features of 100 children with HSP and reviews the literature, placing particular emphasis on new information concerning the etiology, immunopathogenesis, and treatment of HSP. The dominant clinical features of HSP are cutaneous purpura (100%), arthritis (82%), abdominal pain (63%), gastrointestinal bleeding (33%), and nephritis (40%). The etiology of HSP remains unknown, but it is clear that IgA plays a critical role in the immunopathogenesis of HSP, as evidenced by increased serum IgA concentrations, IgA-containing circulating immune complexes, and IgA deposition in vessel walls and renal mesangium. There are 2 subclasses of IgA, but HSP is associated with abnormalities involving IgA1 exclusively, and not IgA2. This finding may be a consequence of abnormal glycosylation of O-linked oligosaccharides unique to the hinge region of IgA1 molecules. Although several lines of evidence suggest a genetic susceptibility to HSP, the fundamental basis for the abnormalities involving IgA remain unclear. In general, HSP is an acute, self-limited illness, but one-third of patients will have 1 or more recurrences of symptoms. Corticosteroid therapy may hasten the resolution of arthritis and abdominal pain, but does not prevent recurrences. To date, no form of therapy has been shown to shorten appreciably the duration of HSP. The long-term prognosis of HSP is directly dependent on the severity of renal involvement. Corticosteroids in usual doses have no effect on established nephritis. Evidence is emerging that treatment with high-dose intravenous pulse methylprednisolone coupled with azathioprine or cyclophosphamide may be beneficial in patients with severe nephritis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Age Distribution
  • Arthritis / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / etiology
  • Humans
  • IgA Vasculitis* / complications
  • IgA Vasculitis* / drug therapy
  • IgA Vasculitis* / epidemiology
  • IgA Vasculitis* / physiopathology
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nephritis / etiology
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones