Immunosuppressive treatment for non-systemic vasculitic neuropathy

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jan 24;(1):CD006050. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006050.pub2.


Background: Non-systemic vasculitic neuropathy is a rare disabling disease that usually has a subacute onset of progressive or relapsing-remitting sensory or sensorimotor deficits. Asymmetry, pain and weakness are key features. The diagnosis can only be made by exclusion of other causes, the absence of systemic vasculitis or other rheumatic diseases, and the demonstration of vasculitis in a nerve or a combined nerve and muscle biopsy. There is a need for efficacious therapy to prevent disease progression and to improve prognosis.

Objectives: To assess if immunosuppressive treatment in non-systemic vasculitic neuropathy reduces disability, and ameliorates neurological symptoms, and if such therapy can be given safely.

Search strategy: The Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group Trials Register (March 2006), The Cochrane Library (Issue 1, 2006), MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS, and ISI were searched from January 1980 until April 2006. In addition, the reference lists of relevant articles, reviews and textbooks were handsearched.

Selection criteria: All randomised or quasi-randomised trials that examined the efficacy of immunosuppressive treatment for non-systemic vasculitic neuropathy at least one year after the onset of therapy were sought. Participants had to fulfill the following criteria: absence of systemic or neurological disease, exclusion of any recognised cause of the neuropathy by appropriate clinical or laboratory investigations, electrophysiological studies in agreement with axonal neuropathy, confirmation of vasculitis in a nerve or a combined nerve and muscle biopsy. The primary outcome measure was to be improvement in disability. Secondary outcome measures were to be change in the mean disability score, change in muscle strength measured with the Medical Research Council sum score, change in pain or other positive sensory symptoms, number of relapses, and adverse events.

Data collection and analysis: Two authors independently reviewed and extracted details of all potentially relevant trials. For included studies pooled relative risks and pooled weighted standardised mean differences were to be calculated to assess treatment efficacy.

Main results: Fifty-nine studies were identified and assessed for possible inclusion in the review, but all were excluded because of insufficient quality or lack of relevance.

Authors' conclusions: No adequate randomised or quasi-randomised controlled clinical trials have been performed on which to base treatment for non-systemic vasculitic neuropathy. Randomised trials of corticosteroids and other immunosuppressive agents are needed.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy / methods*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Vasculitis / complications
  • Vasculitis / drug therapy*


  • Immunosuppressive Agents