Pulmonary capillaritis: The association with progressive irreversible airflow limitation and hyperinflation

M. I. Schwarz, R. L. Mortenson, T. V. Colby, J. A. Waldron, D. A. Lynch, M. P. Hutt, R. M. Cherniack, T. E. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


We report two patients with systemic necrotizing vasculitis (microscopic polyarteritis) and associated recurrent pulmonary capillaritis, in whom progressive irreversible airway dysfunction began approximately 10 yr after disease onset. Their course was characterized by repeated episodes of diffuse alveolar hemorrhage, glomerulonephritis, palpable purpura, and splinter hemorrhages. The lung revealed intraalveolar hemorrhage, neutrophilic infiltration and cellular fragmentation, fibrinoid necrosis of the alveolar interstitium, and parenchymal hemosiderin deposits. No medium-sized vessel involvement, granulomatous inflammation, or bronchiolar obliteration were seen. Renal biopsies revealed focal segmental necrotizing glomerulonephritis, and a cutaneous biopsy in one case showed a leukocytoclastic vasculitis. Immunofluorescent studies of lung and kidney showed minimal or no immunoreactivity. The clinical course and serologic tests did not support another systemic vasculitis, connective tissue disease, or antiglomerular basement membrane antibody disease. The acute episodes responded to antiinflammatory and immunosuppressive therapy. Symptoms, serial pulmonary function tests, and chest imaging documented the development of a progressive irreversible obstructive airway disease. No other predisposing factors were identified. These cases demonstrate the unexpected appearance of an irreversible obstructive airway disease with lung parenchymal hyperinflation after systemic necrotizing vasculitis associated with recurrent pulmonary capillaritis and diffuse alveolar hemorrhage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-511
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Review of Respiratory Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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