Virus and Autoimmunity: Can SARS-CoV-2 Trigger Large Vessel Vasculitis?
  • João Lázaro Mendes
    Internal Medicine Department, Centro Hospitalar Tondela-Viseu, Viseu
  • Gabriela Venade
    Internal Medicine Department, Centro Hospitalar Tondela-Viseu, Viseu
  • Paula Manuel
    Internal Medicine Department, Centro Hospitalar Tondela-Viseu, Viseu
  • Luís Costa Matos
    Internal Medicine Department, Centro Hospitalar Tondela-Viseu, Viseu; Faculdade de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade da Beira Interior, Covilhã
  • Edite Nascimento
    Internal Medicine Department, Centro Hospitalar Tondela-Viseu, Viseu


Introduction: Viral infections can induce autoimmune diseases in susceptible patients. SARS-CoV-2 has been associated with the development of rheumatic disease, especially small vessel vasculitis and arthritis. Typically, onset occurs days to weeks after the antigenic challenge and in patients with mild COVID-19. We report a case of large vessel vasculitis (LVV) temporally related to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Case description: An otherwise healthy 19-year-old woman presented with fatigue, malaise, and chest and low back pain. The symptoms had begun 5 weeks earlier and 1 month after mild SARS-CoV-2 infection. Serological work-up revealed a marked proinflammatory state and anaemia without signs of infectious or autoimmune disease. Computerized tomography revealed thickening and blurring of the perivascular fat of the descending thoracic and abdominal aorta, progressing along the proximal iliac and renal arteries. Fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography confirmed inflammatory activity. Symptoms and laboratory values normalized after prednisolone treatment.

Discussion: Recent SARS-CoV-2 infection may be a trigger for LVV, including Takayasu arteritis, as well as other rheumatic diseases. A prompt and thorough differential diagnosis is essential to exclude aortitis and LVV mimickers. Moreover, physicians should be aware of the potential spectrum of systemic and autoimmune diseases that could be precipitated by SARS-CoV-2 infection. This will allow timely diagnosis and treatment, with significant improvement in prognosis.



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    Published: 2022-08-09
    Issue: 2022: Vol 9 No 8 (view)

    How to cite:
    Lázaro Mendes J, Venade G, Manuel P, Costa Matos L, Nascimento E. Virus and Autoimmunity: Can SARS-CoV-2 Trigger Large Vessel Vasculitis?. EJCRIM 2022;9 doi:10.12890/2022_003486.

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