What is the relationship between polyarteritis nodosa (PAN) and hepatitis B virus (HBV)?

Updated: Dec 17, 2020
  • Author: Dana Jacobs-Kosmin, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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The pathogenesis of polyarteritis nodosa (PAN) is unknown, and no animal model is available for study. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is strongly linked with PAN. Evidence for immune complex–induced disease is confined to HBV-related PAN; the role of immune complexes in non-HBV-related PAN remains unclear. [7]

Impaired function of endothelial cells may be part of idiopathic PAN or a consequence of it; in HBV-PAN, virus replication may directly injure the vessel wall. [11] Endothelial dysfunction can perpetuate the inflammation through cytokine and adhesion molecule production. [10]

HBV-associated vasculitis almost always takes the form of PAN. HBV-PAN may occur at any time during the course of acute or chronic hepatitis B infection, although it typically occurs within 6 months of infection. [11]

The activity of HBV-PAN does not parallel that of the hepatitis, and symptoms are the same as those of idiopathic PAN. Small studies have found that gastrointestinal manifestations, malignant hypertension, renal infarction, and orchiepididymitis were more common in HBV-PAN. [11]

HBV was once the cause of up to 30% of PAN cases. [12] Widespread use of the hepatitis B vaccine has significantly decreased the incidence of HBV-PAN, which is now estimated to account for less than 8% of all PAN cases. [13]

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