Are Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis the Same Disease?

Fabrizio Cantini, Laura Niccoli, Lara Storri, Carlotta Nannini, Ignazio Olivieri, Angela Padula, Luigi Boiardi, Carlo Salvarani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To summarize the evidence about the relationship between polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) and giant cell arteritis (GCA). Methods: Review of relevant articles from the English-language literature. Results: Epidemiologic studies suggest that PMR and GCA are closely related conditions affecting people over 50 years and frequently occurring in the same patient. PMR symptoms have been observed in 40 to 60 percent of GCA clinical series. Also, temporal artery biopsy may yield positive results for GCA in patients with isolated PMR. Conflicting HLA-DRB1 genotype results have been reported, and recent studies have shown that PMR and GCA have different expression of RANTES, TNFα microsatellite, and IL-6 promoter genetic polymorphisms. Search for a possible common infectious agent have yielded disappointing results. Although parvovirus B19 DNA is present in the artery wall of patients with GCA, this virus may be only an innocent bystander. Cytokine studies on a limited number of temporal artery biopsy specimens have shown that interferon-γ is produced in GCA and not in PMR, suggesting that this cytokine may be crucial to the development of overt vasculitis. Conclusions: PMR and GCA frequently occur together but no definitive conclusions can be drawn about the nature of this association.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-301
Number of pages8
JournalSeminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2004


  • Giant cell arteritis
  • Pathogenesis
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rheumatology


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