Eosinophils in vasculitis: characteristics and roles in pathogenesis

Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2014 Aug;10(8):474-83. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2014.98. Epub 2014 Jul 8.


Eosinophils are multifunctional granular leukocytes that are implicated in the pathogenesis of a wide variety of disorders, including asthma, helminth infection, and rare hypereosinophilic syndromes. Although peripheral and tissue eosinophilia can be a feature of many types of small-vessel and medium-vessel vasculitis, the role of eosinophils has been best studied in eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA), where eosinophils are a characteristic finding in all three clinical stages of the disorder. Whereas numerous studies have demonstrated an association between the presence of eosinophils and markers of eosinophil activation in the blood and tissues of patients with EGPA, the precise role of eosinophils in disease pathogenesis has been difficult to ascertain owing to the complexity of the disease process. In this regard, results of clinical trials using novel agents that specifically target eosinophils are providing the first direct evidence of a central role of eosinophils in EGPA. This Review focuses on the aspects of eosinophil biology most relevant to the pathogenesis of vasculitis and provides an update of current knowledge regarding the role of eosinophils in EGPA and other vasculitides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Chemokines / immunology
  • Churg-Strauss Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Churg-Strauss Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Churg-Strauss Syndrome / etiology
  • Churg-Strauss Syndrome / immunology*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Eosinophils / immunology*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vasculitis / immunology


  • Biomarkers
  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Glucocorticoids