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An update on the microbiome in vasculitis


Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2021 Jan;33(1):15-23. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0000000000000758.

Shahna Tariq 1, Alison H Clifford

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1 Division of Rheumatology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Purpose of review: To summarize recent evidence regarding the presence and potential role of the microbiome in systemic vasculitides.

Recent findings: Microbiomic descriptions are now available in patients with small, medium and large vessel vasculitis. The majority of studies have evaluated gastrointestinal inhabitants, with a smaller number of studies describing the nasal, pulmonary or vascular microbiomes. Most published studies are observational and cross-sectional. Dysbiosis is seen frequently in vasculitis patients with reduced microbial diversity observed in nasal, fecal and vascular samples compared with disease and/or healthy controls. Predominant bacteria vary, but overall, patients with vasculitis tend to have more pathogenic and less commensal bacteria in active disease. In the few longitudinal studies available, improvement or resolution of dysbiosis has been observed following vasculitis treatment and improved disease activity.

Summary: Dysbiosis and reduced microbial diversity has been identified in patients with small, medium and large vessel vasculitis. Although limited data suggests microbiomes may 'normalize' following immunosuppression, cause or effect cannot be determined. It is hypothesized that microbial disruption in a genetically susceptible individual may trigger excessive host immune activation and vasculitis; however, larger studies with longitudinal and translational design are needed to further our current understanding.