A 44 year old male with history of cocaine use presented with 1 year history of headache and progressive frontal lobe syndrome, including symptoms like apathy, personality changes, lack of ability to plan, poor working memory for verbal information or spatial information, Broca aphasia, disinhibition, emotional lability, etc. CT scan found extensive destruction of osteocartilaginous structures of the nasal cavity and MRI showed extensive edema of the frontal lobe. Biopsy showed chronic inflammation but negative for granulomatous inflammation. Patient’s CSF laboratory analysis was normal but ANCA was tested positive, in a P-ANCA pattern without MPO detectable. Patient was diagnosed as CIMDL. After stopping cocaine use, patient was doing better but still has mild frontal lobe syndrome.
Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA) are a group of autoantibodies that directed toward antigens expressed mainly in neutrophil granulocytes, such as proteinase 3 (RP3) and myeloperoxidase (MPO). The presence of ANCA is mainly associated with a distinct form of small vessel vasculitis, known as ANCA-associated vasculitis, but is also detected in other disease, like autoimmune hepatitis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, ulcerative colitis, and other chronic inflammatory disease. The gold standard laboratory method to screen ANCA is indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA or IIF), which qualitatively capture antibodies in serum/or plasma bound to fixed human neutrophil granulocytes.
Two form of ANCA-associated vasculitis, granulomatous with polyangiitis (GPA) and eosinophilic granulomatous with polyangiitis (EGPA), are systemic diseases that commonly associated with necrotizing granulomatous vasculitis. GPA has a primary involvement of the upper and lower respiratory tract and kidney. Autoantibodies to PR3 are found in 90% of active GPA cases, which generates a cytoplasmic-ANCA (C-ANCA) pattern on ANCA IFA test. EGPA is a rare form of systemic necrotizing vasculitis characterized by asthma and eosinophilia. A perinuclear-ANCA (P-ANCA) IFA pattern directing towards MPO antibody are often seen in EGPA cases.
Both GPA and EGPA may also present with sinonasal involvement, causing non-infectious inflammatory lesions of the sinonasal tract. Sinonasal inflammatory disease can also result from bacterial and fungal infections, or other non-infectious process, such as sarcoidosis, polychondritis, or obstruction. ANCA is detected in the majority of GPA and EGPA case, therefore it provides useful information in differential diagnosis of sinonasal inflammatory disease. Both GPA and EGPA are autoimmune diseases, corticosteroids and immunosuppressive agents are effective treatment.
Sinonasal inflammation can also been seen in a subset of patients with cocaine abuse, who normally present with midline destructive lesions, known as cocaine-induced midline destruction lesions (CIMDL). Long-term cocaine use has been associated with ischemia of mucosal tissue, cartilage and bone, and cocaine abuser using intranasal inhalation route can have midline deformity and septal perforation. Interestingly, ANCA are also found in a large portion of CIMDL, and in contrast to GPA or EGPA, ANCA in CIMDL are primarily directed against neutrophil elastase, generate a P-ANCA or atypical P-ANCA pattern, without detection of MPO. Therefore, ANCA serology testing could help the differentiation between CIMDL and GPA although these two can overlap clinically and histopathologically. Also, CIMDL does not respond well to immunosuppressive therapy and only consistent removal of stimuli (cocaine) can halt the disease process.
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-Xin Yi, PhD, DABCC, FACB, is a board-certified clinical chemist, currently serving as the Co-director of Clinical Chemistry at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, TX and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.