Pathogenesis of antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody-mediated disease

Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2014 Aug;10(8):463-73. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2014.103. Epub 2014 Jul 8.


Antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies (ANCAs) are the probable cause of a distinct form of vasculitis that can be accompanied by necrotizing granulomatosis. Clinical and experimental evidence supports a pathogenesis that is driven by ANCA-induced activation of neutrophils and monocytes, producing destructive necrotizing vascular and extravascular inflammation. Pathogenic ANCAs can originate from precursor natural autoantibodies. Pathogenic transformation might be initiated by commensal or pathogenic microbes, legal or illegal drugs, exogenous or endogenous autoantigen complementary peptides, or dysregulated autoantigen expression. The ANCA autoimmune response is facilitated by insufficient T-cell and B-cell regulation. A putative pathogenic mechanism for vascular inflammation begins with ANCA-induced activation of primed neutrophils and monocytes leading to activation of the alternative complement pathway, which sets in motion an inflammatory amplification loop in the vessel wall that attracts and activates neutrophils with resultant respiratory burst, degranulation, extrusion of neutrophil extracellular traps, apoptosis and necrosis. The pathogenesis of extravascular granulomatosis is less clear, but a feasible scenario proposes that a prodromal infectious or allergic condition positions primed neutrophils in extravascular tissue in which they can be activated by ANCAs in interstitial fluid to produce extravascular necrotizing injury that would initiate an innate granulomatous inflammatory response to wall off the necrotic debris.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic / immunology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Glomerulonephritis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / immunology*
  • Vasculitis / etiology
  • Vasculitis / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic
  • Biomarkers
  • Immunologic Factors