Which histologic findings are characteristic of relapsing polychondritis (RP)?

Updated: Dec 24, 2020
  • Author: Nicholas Compton, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Biopsy of cartilage in patients with relapsing polychondritis demonstrates chondrolysis, chondritis, and perichondritis. The cartilage loses its basophilia, probably by release of sulfated proteoglycans from the matrix, and the chondrocytes are decreased in number and may appear pyknotic. Early relapsing polychondritis is characterized by a mixed inflammatory infiltrate of lymphocytes, neutrophils, and plasma cells in the perichondrium. As the cartilage degenerates, mononuclear cells and macrophages infiltrate the matrix. The cartilage matrix is eventually destroyed and replaced by fibrous connective tissue. Despite the presence of clinical erythema, overlying skin is normal.

Distant lesions with the clinical appearance of vasculitis have histologic features consistent with the clinical syndrome, including leukocytoclastic or granulomatous vascular injury.

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