Recent advances in the diagnosis and therapy of large vessel vasculitis

Pol Arch Intern Med. 2022 Jun 29;132(6):16272. doi: 10.20452/pamw.16272. Epub 2022 Jun 6.


Large vessel vasculitis (LVV), including Takayasu arteritis (TAK) and giant cell arteritis (GCA), causes granulomatous vascular inflammation mainly in large vessels, and is the most common primary vasculitis in adults. Vascular inflammation may evoke many clinical features including vision impairment, stroke, limb ischemia, and aortic aneurysms. The best way to diagnose LVV is to combine medical history, physical examination, various laboratory tests, and imaging modalities. Progress in imaging modalities facilitated early diagnosis and follow‑up of the disease activity. Conventional angiography is no longer the gold standard for the diagnosis of TAK. Similarly, temporal artery biopsy is no longer the only tool for diagnosing cranial GCA. In selected cases, color Doppler ultrasound may be used for this purpose. Despite some similarities, TAK and GCA differ in many aspects and they are different diseases. They also have different clinical subtypes. The presence of aortitis does not always implicate the diagnosis of TAK or GCA; infectious aortitis, as well as noninfectious aortitis associated with other autoimmune rheumatic diseases should be excluded. Treatment of LVV includes glucocorticoids (GCs), conventional immunosuppressive agents, and biological drugs. Tumor necrosis factor inhibitors are ineffective in GCA but effective in TAK. On the other hand, tocilizumab may be used to treat both diseases. Promising targeted therapies evaluated in ongoing clinical trials include, for example, anti‑IL‑12/23 (ustekinumab), anti‑IL‑17 (secukinumab), anti‑IL‑1 (anakinra), anti‑IL‑23 (guselkumab), anti‑cytotoxic T‑lymphocyte antigen 4 (abatacept), Janus kinase inhibitors (tofacitinib and upadacitinib), anti‑granulocyte / macrophage colony‑stimulating factor (mavrilimumab), and endothelin receptor (bosentan) therapies.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aortitis* / drug therapy
  • Giant Cell Arteritis* / diagnosis
  • Giant Cell Arteritis* / drug therapy
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Takayasu Arteritis* / diagnosis
  • Takayasu Arteritis* / drug therapy


  • Glucocorticoids