Purpose of review: Since the discovery of antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies (ANCA) and their association with the occurrence of several types of small-vessel vasculitis, a causal relation between the two has been suggested. Various in vitro and in vivo experimental data provide indirect evidence in support of this view. This article comprises a review of the animal models that have been used to investigate the pathogenesis of ANCA-associated vasculitis, and focuses on recent developments in this field.
Recent findings: Xiao et al. provide definite proof of the pathogenic potential of ANCA in a novel mouse model of myeloperoxidase (MPO)-ANCA-associated vasculitis, in which transfer of splenocytes or IgG from MPO-/- mice immunized with murine MPO, to naive wild-type or Rag2-/- (lacking mature B and T lymphocytes) mice causes a disease remarkably similar to its human counterpart. In addition, preliminary studies by Smyth et al. show that immunization of Wistar Kyoto rats with human MPO induces antihuman MPO antibodies that cross-react with rat MPO, as well as a disease closely resembling human small-vessel vasculitis. Another murine ANCA model is the SCG/Kj mouse. A recent publication by Neumann et al., however, puts an important limitation on the use of this mouse model for the study of ANCA-associated vasculitis, demonstrating multiple immune complex deposits in the spontaneously occurring vascular lesions. SUMMARY Recently developed animal models of MPO-ANCA-associated vasculitis convincingly demonstrate that MPO-ANCA are pathogenic. Whether similar strategies can be used to develop an appropriate model for proteinase 3-ANCA-associated vasculitis remains to be investigated.