Diagnosis and classification of granulomatosis with polyangiitis (aka Wegener's granulomatosis)

J Autoimmun. Feb-Mar 2014;48-49:94-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2014.01.028. Epub 2014 Jan 29.


Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA, formerly known as Wegener's Granulomatosis) is an autoimmune small vessel vasculitis which is highly associated with anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA). The hallmarks of this condition are systemic necrotising vasculitis, necrotising granulomatous inflammation, and necrotising glomerulonephritis. The aetiology of granulomatosis with polyangiitis is linked to environmental and infectious triggers inciting onset of disease in genetically predisposed individuals. Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies are pathogenic and play an important role in the pathogenesis of this disease, although ANCA positivity is not essential for a clinical diagnosis of granulomatosis with polyangiitis. Granulomatosis with polyangiitis is diagnosed based on clinical manifestations of systemic vasculitis and histological evidence of necrotising vasculitis or granulomatous inflammation. This small vessel vasculitis may present as limited disease of the ears, nose and upper airways or mild, moderate or severe systemic disease. Immunosuppression and adjuvant therapies have contributed to the improved prognosis of granulomatosis with polyangiitis over the past decades. Treatment strategies are tailored to the severity of the disease. They are based on published evidence of the efficacy and safety of the immunosuppressive drugs indicated to manage active vasculitis and maintain clinical remission. This review will summarise the history, aetiology, pathogenesis, classification, diagnosis and management of granulomatosis with polyangiitis.

Keywords: ANCA; Granulomatosis; Polyangiitis; Treatment; Vasculitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Autoimmune Diseases / classification
  • Autoimmune Diseases / diagnosis
  • Autoimmune Diseases / epidemiology
  • Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis / classification*
  • Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis / diagnosis*
  • Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis / epidemiology
  • Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis / genetics
  • Humans
  • Myeloblastin / adverse effects
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Staphylococcal Infections / classification
  • Staphylococcal Infections / diagnosis
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / pathogenicity
  • Vasculitis / classification
  • Vasculitis / diagnosis
  • Vasculitis / enzymology
  • Vasculitis / epidemiology


  • Air Pollutants
  • Myeloblastin