Autoimmunity and autoinflammation as the yin and yang of idiopathic recurrent acute pericarditis

Luca Cantarini, Giuseppe Lopalco, Carlo Selmi, Salvatore Napodano, Gabriella De Rosa, Francesco Caso, Luisa Costa, Florenzo Iannone, Donato Rigante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Autoimmunity and autoinflammation are generally considered as mutually exclusive mechanisms of diseases but may concur to specific syndromes. Idiopathic recurrent acute pericarditis (IRAP) is defined as the recurrence of pericardial symptoms at any point following the prior cessation of acute pericarditis, and the latency is generally 6. weeks. Manifestations of pericarditis such as pericardial friction rub, electrocardiographic changes, and pericardial effusion are less frequent in the subsequent episodes compared to the index attack, and in some cases the only clinical sign is represented by a suggestive chest pain. Several autoimmune diseases may manifest with pericarditis which is often related to viral infections, while postviral pericarditis may in turn display a nonspecific autoimmune background. Similarly, autoinflammatory syndromes such as familial Mediterranean fever and tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated periodic syndrome are characterized by self-limiting pericardial symptoms. Corticosteroids are generally effective, thus supporting the autoimmune nature of IRAP, but dramatic results are obtained with interleukin-1 blocking agents in corticosteroid-dependent cases, pointing to a pathogenic role for the inflammasome. Based on these observations, we submit that IRAP represents a paradigmatic example of the putative coexistence of autoimmunity and autoinflammation: the main aim of this review is to critically discuss the hypothesis as well as the current understanding of this enigmatic clinical condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-97
Number of pages8
JournalAutoimmunity Reviews
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Anakinra
  • Interleukin-1
  • Pericardial effusion
  • Recurrence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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