Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Specific treatment for vasculitis depends on what kind of vasculitis you have, how serious your condition is and your general health. Though some types of vasculitis are self-limiting and improve on their own, such as Henoch-Schonlein purpura, others require medications.

Medications used to treat vasculitis include:

  • Steroids to control inflammation. Treatment for many types of vasculitis consists of doses of a corticosteroid drug, such as prednisone or methylprednisolone (Medrol), to control inflammation. Side effects of steroids can be severe, especially when taken over a long period of time. Side effects can include weight gain, diabetes and bone thinning (osteoporosis). You're likely to receive the lowest dose of steroids possible to control your disease.
  • Medications to control the immune system. Severe cases of vasculitis or those that don't respond adequately to corticosteroids may need treatment with cytotoxic drugs that kill immune system cells responsible for causing inflammation. Cytotoxic drugs include azathioprine (Azasan, Imuran) and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan). Another drug that helps dampen the immune system response is rituximab (Rituxan). This drug is approved for treating granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's) and microscopic polyangiitis along with corticosteroids. Researchers have also had some success using drugs that alter your body's immune response to treat certain types of vasculitis. Drugs that have been used, but are still being tested include mycophenolate (Cellcept), infliximab (Remicade), adalimumab (Humira) and anakinra (Kineret).
Oct. 08, 2011