Relapsing polychondritis (RP) is a multisystem inflammatory disease of unknown etiology in which the cartilaginous structures of the ears, nose, trachea, and joints are the main sites of damage. A variety of other organs and tissues, including the eyes, heart, and blood vessels, can also be affected by RP. Clues from human and animal studies suggest that cartilage components may be the antigens driving the immune response, leading to damage from the resulting inflammation. First described by Jaksch-Wartenhorst (1923), more than 500 patients with RP have been reported in the medical literature. RP has a worldwide distribution. Some RP cases are associated with other conditions, particularly myelodysplastic syndromes and connective tissue disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus.
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