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Aortitis: recent advances, current concepts and future possibilities
  1. Dan Pugh1,
  2. Peter Grayson2,
  3. Neil Basu3,
  4. Neeraj Dhaun1
  1. 1 University/BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2 National Institute of Arthritis & Musculoskeletal & Skin Diseases, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  3. 3 Institute of Infection, Immunity & Inflammation, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Neeraj Dhaun, University of Edinburgh Division of Health Sciences, Edinburgh EH16 4TJ, UK; Bean.Dhaun{at}


Broadly defined, aortitis refers to inflammation of the aorta and incorporates both infectious and non-infectious aetiologies. As advanced imaging modalities are increasingly incorporated into clinical practice, the phenotypic spectrum associated with aortitis has widened. The primary large vessel vasculitides, giant cell arteritis and Takayasu arteritis, are the most common causes of non-infectious aortitis. Aortitis without systemic disease or involvement of other vascular territories is classified as clinically isolated aortitis. Periaortitis, where inflammation spreads beyond the aortic wall, is an important disease subset with a distinct group of aetiologies. Infectious aortitis can involve bacterial, viral or fungal pathogens and, while uncommon, can be devastating. Importantly, optimal management strategies and patient outcomes differ between aortitis subgroups highlighting the need for a thorough diagnostic workup. Monitoring disease activity over time is also challenging as normal inflammatory markers do not exclude significant vascular inflammation, particularly after starting treatment. Additional areas of unmet clinical need include clear disease classifications and improved short-term and long-term management strategies. Some of these calls are now being answered, particularly with regard to large vessel vasculitis where our understanding has advanced significantly in recent years. Work extrapolated from temporal artery histology has paved the way for targeted biological agents and, although glucocorticoids remain central to the management of non-infectious aortitis, these may allow reduced glucocorticoid reliance. Future work should seek to clarify disease definitions, improve diagnostic pathways and ultimately allow a more stratified approach to patient management.

  • aortitis

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to the writing and editing of this manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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