How has the understanding of polyarteritis nodosa (PAN) evolved since the systemic vasculitic disorders were first described?

Updated: Dec 17, 2020
  • Author: Dana Jacobs-Kosmin, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Insight into PAN requires some understanding of how this rare disease has been defined. Periarteritis nodosa was a term used from the mid-1800s to the 1900s to describe a spectrum of systemic vasculitic disorders, including diseases that manifested as arterial aneurysms, as well as those that caused diffuse necrotizing glomerulonephritis. [5, 6] The term periarteritis nodosa was changed to polyarteritis nodosa in the mid-1900s to reflect the transmural inflammation of arteries caused by this disorder. [7]

The understanding of vasculitides continued to increase by the 1980s with the discovery of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCAs). Microscopic polyangiitis (MPA; formerly called microscopic polyarteritis) is an ANCA-associated systemic vasculitis that has some features similar to those of classic PAN, with the additional involvement of renal glomeruli and pulmonary capillaries.

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