Causes of Vasculitis

There are certain types of vasculitis that can be due to infection where the bacteria/virus/fungas directly invades the vessel wall. Other types of vasculitis may be due to an ‘allergic’-type reaction to medications or toxins.

However, the causes of most vasculitides discussed on this website are currently unknown – and not caused directly by an infection or toxin.

It is clear, however, that in the systemic vasculitides, the immune system plays a critical role in the tissue damage seen in vasculitis. The immune system, normally a protective organ of the body, becomes “hyperactive” in vasculitis because of some unknown stimulus, leading to inflammation within the body’s tissues. Inflammation in blood vessel walls leads to narrowing of the vessels. The resulting inadequate blood supply to a particular tissue or organ results in damage.


All information contained within the Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center website is intended for educational purposes only. Visitors are encouraged to consult other sources and confirm the information contained within this site. Consumers should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something they may have read on this website.