Relapsing polychondritis

Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2004 Oct;18(5):723-38. doi: 10.1016/j.berh.2004.05.012.


Relapsing polychondritis (RP) is a rare multisystem autoimmune disease of unknown origin characterized by recurrent episodes of inflammation and progressive destruction of cartilaginous tissues. Elastic cartilage of the ears and nose, hyaline cartilage of peripheral joints, vertebral fibrocartilage and tracheobronchial cartilage, as well as proteoglycan-rich structures of the eye, heart, blood vessels or inner ear may all be affected. In most patients RP manifests in a fluctuating but progressive course which eventually results in a significant shortening of life expectancy. The relatively uncommon occurrence, the unknown etiopathogenesis, the ambiguous clinical pattern, as well as the variety in its course and response to therapy may all contribute to the difficulties the physician must overcome when managing RP. Beside describing the main features of RP and seven clinical cases of our own, in the present review we focus on recent findings in the etiopathogenesis and novel treatment options.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage / pathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Proteins / therapeutic use*
  • Polychondritis, Relapsing* / etiology
  • Polychondritis, Relapsing* / pathology
  • Polychondritis, Relapsing* / therapy
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type II
  • Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Decoy Receptors


  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type II
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Decoy Receptors