Br J Ophthalmol 95:214-216 doi:10.1136/bjo.2009.177220
  • Clinical science
  • Original article

Giant cell arteritis in Asians: a comparative study

  1. Timothy J McCulley1
  1. 1Department of Ophthalmology, University of California–San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  2. 2Department of Ophthalmology, Santa Casa de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
  3. 3Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California–San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Timothy J McCulley, Department of Ophthalmology, University of California San Francisco, 10 Koret Way, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA; mcculleyt{at}
  • Accepted 26 March 2010
  • Published Online First 28 June 2010


Background Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is a common systemic vasculitis, with a presumed Caucasian predominance. The occurrence of GCA in Asians has rarely been addressed. This study aims to assess the incidence of giant cell arteritis in Asians.

Methods In this retrospective review, the self-reported ethnicities of patients with biopsy-proven GCA at the University of California–San Francisco (UCSF) were recorded. Ethnic distribution of the patient population served by UCSF was estimated from an age- and sex-matched control group. The odds ratio for each ethnicity (Asian and Caucasian) was determined and compared using Fisher's exact test and logistic regression analysis.

Results The ethnic distribution of the 38 patients with positive temporal artery biopsies were as follows: Caucasian n=31 (81.6%), Asian n=1 (2.6%) and other n=6 (15.8%). The ethnic distribution of the patient population served by UCSF was as follows: Caucasian 42%, Asian 28% and other 30%. The difference in the proportion of GCA in Asians and Caucasians was statistically significant (OR 0.049 (95% CI 0.0065 to 0.374), p=0.0036).

Conclusions In our patient population, GCA was seen 20 times less frequently in Asian than Caucasian patients. Although this difference is significantly different (p=0.036), given the small sample size and wide CI this should be viewed as a rough estimate.


  • Presented in part at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology annual meeting, Ft Lauderdale, Florida, USA, 2007.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the University of California–San Francisco Institutional Review Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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