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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Polyarteritis nodosa


Other Names for this Disease
  • PAN
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Your Question

How can I find information on treatment for polyarteritis nodosa? Are there any dietary supplements or other alternative therapies that have been used to treat polyarteritis nodosa?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is polyarteritis nodosa?

Polyarteritis nodosa is a serious blood vessel disease in which medium-sized arteries become swollen and damaged.[1] It occurs when certain immune cells attack the affected arteries preventing vital oxygen and nourishment. Signs and symptoms may include fever, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss, muscle and joint aches, and abdominal pain. The skin may show rashes, swelling, ulcers, and lumps.[2] When nerve cells are involved numbness, pain, burning, and weakness may be present.[2] Polyarteritis nodosa can cause serious health complications including strokes, seizures, and kidney failure. Treatment often includes steroids and other drugs to suppress the immune system.[2]
Last updated: 1/16/2012

Are there different types of polyarteritis nodosa?

While there are not different types of polyarteritis nodosa, the definition of this condition has changed over the years. What was formerly “polyarteritis nodosa complicating rheumatoid arthritis” is now termed “rheumatoid vasculitis,” and most cases of “polyarteritis nodosa with lung involvement” are now termed “Churg-Strauss vasculitis.”[1] Also polyarteritis nodosa limited to the skin is called cutaneous polyarteritis nodosa or periarteritis nodosa. This condition does not have the same risk for serious complications as classic polyarteritis nodosa.[3]
Last updated: 1/16/2012

How might polyarteritis nodosa be treated?

Few people with polyarteritis nodosa have mild disease that remains stable with nonaggressive therapy; because of the risk for serious health complications, aggressive therapy is often recommended. Treatment may include prednisone in divided doses. Additional therapy, such as cyclophosphamide, chlorambucil, azathioprine, methotrexate, dapsone, cyclosporine, or plasma exchange, may also be recommended. The goal of therapy is remission (to have no active disease) within 6 months or so. At this point the person may be maintained on cyclophosphamide (or other therapy) for a year, before it is tapered and withdrawn over the course of 3 to 6 months.

It is very important that people undergoing treatment for polyarteritis nodosa be monitored closely for toxic effects of the drugs or for signs of worsening disease. This monitoring may involve blood counts, urinalyses, serum chemistries, and the ESR on at least monthly intervals.[1]
Last updated: 1/16/2012

Are there dietary supplements or other alternative therapies that have been used to treat polyarteritis nodosa?

It is always helpful to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle; however, we are not aware of any alternative therapies or supplements of particular benefit for treatment of polyarteritis nodosa. We recommend that you talk with your healthcare provider further regarding your treatment options.
Last updated: 1/16/2012

Are there clinical trials investigating new therapies for treatment of polyarteritis nodosa?    

The Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium (VCRC) is an integrated group of academic medical centers, patient support organizations, and clinical research resources dedicated to conducting clinical research in different forms of vasculitis, including polyarteritis nodosa. The VCRC has a contact registry for patients who wish to be contacted about clinical research opportunities and updates on the progress of the VCRC research projects.

Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium (VCRC)
Carol King, MA
Project Manager
715 Albany Street, E-5
Boston, MA 02118
Telephone: 617-414-2505
Fax: 617-414-2510
E-mail: acaking@bu.edu

The U.S. National Institutes of Health, through the National Library of Medicine, developed ClinicalTrials.gov to provide patients, family members, and members of the public with current information on clinical research studies. Currently, clinical trials are identified as enrolling individuals with polyarteritis nodosa. After you click on a study, review its "eligibility" criteria to determine its appropriateness. Use the study’s contact information to learn more. Check this site often for regular updates.

You can also contact the Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison (PRPL) Office at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We recommend calling the toll-free number 1-800-411-1222 to speak with a specialist, who can help you determine if you are eligible for any clinical trials.  

If you are interested in enrolling in a clinical trial, you can find helpful general information on clinical trials at the following ClinicalTrials.gov Web page.
http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/info/understand

Resources on many charitable or special-fare flights to research and treatment sites and low-cost hospitality accommodations for outpatients and family members, as well as ambulance services, are listed on the Web site of the Office of Rare Diseases Research (ORDR), part of the National Institutes of Health.
http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/Resources.aspx?PageID=8

Last updated: 1/16/2012

References
  • Sergent JS. Polyarteritis and Related Disorders. In: Firestein. Kelley’s Textbook of Rheumatology, 8th ed. Philadelphia PA: WB Saunders Company; 2008;
  • Polyarteritis nodosa. MedlinePlus. 2010; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001438.htm. Accessed 1/16/2012.
  • Nakamura T, Kanazawa N, Ikeda T, Yamamoto Y, Nakabayashi K, Ozaki S, Furukawa F. Cutaneous polyarteritis nodosa: revisiting its definition and diagnostic criteria. Arch Dermatol Res. 2009; 301:117-121.