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Commentary

Staphylococcus aureus and Wegener's granulomatosis

Eliane R Popa1, Coen A Stegeman2, Cees GM Kallenberg1* and Jan Willem Cohen Tervaert3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Immunology, University Hospital Groningen, The Netherlands

2 Department of Nephrology, University Hospital Groningen, The Netherlands

3 Department of Clinical Immunology, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands

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Arthritis Res 2002, 4:77-79  doi:10.1186/ar392

Published: 26 October 2001

Abstract

Wegener's granulomatosis (WG) is a form of systemic vasculitis. It is characterized by granulomatous inflammation in the upper and lower airways, vasculitis and necrotizing glomerulonephritis, and is strongly associated with antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies against proteinase 3. Since the etiology of the disease is not clear, treatment, consisting of corticosteroids and immunosuppressives, is nonspecific and associated with severe side effects. Pinpointing the trigger(s) of the disease would highly improve treatment. Clinical evidence shows that an infectious agent, the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, is a risk factor for disease relapse, suggesting its involvement in the pathogenesis of WG. Here we review both clinical and experimental data that either indicate or support a role for S. aureus in WG.

Keywords:
autoimmunity; co-trimoxazole; Staphylococcus aureus; superantigens; Wegener's granulomatosis