Treating GPA and MPA: What are the options?

The treatments prescribed for granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) and microscopic polyangiitis (MPA) — conditions characterized by inflammation of the blood vessels — depend on the severity of the case.

If you have GPA or MPA, you'll need to work with your doctor to determine which treatment option is right for you. Keep in mind that treatments for these types of vasculitis might cause side effects, such as lowering your body's ability to fight infection. As a result, your doctor will monitor you closely and might prescribe medications to prevent further complications.

Treatment options for GPA or MPA might include:

  • Corticosteroids. Milder cases of GPA and MPA are treated with oral synthetic corticosteroids, such as prednisone, to control inflammation of the blood vessels.
  • Immunosuppressive medications. Corticosteroids are often combined with certain drugs, such as methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall) or cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), which suppress the immune system.
  • Biologic therapy. Rituximab (Rituxan) is a drug made up of genetically engineered antibodies. This medication reduces the number of a type of cell in your body (B cell), which produces the antibodies that trigger inflammation.
  • Plasma exchange. Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis) helps the kidneys recover by taking over some of their function. This treatment removes the liquid portion of your blood (plasma) that contains disease-producing substances and then either injects fresh plasma or a protein made by the liver (albumin) into your body or allows your body to produce new plasma.
  • Kidney transplant. You might need to undergo a kidney transplant if GPA or MPA causes your kidneys to fail. Talk to your doctor to determine whether a kidney transplant might be an option for you.

Remember, there is no cure for GPA or MPA. But with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, you will likely recover.

July 17, 2014