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Goodpasture syndrome

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
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Goodpasture syndrome

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Goodpasture syndrome is a rare disease that can affect the lungs and kidneys. It is an autoimmune disease, a condition in which the body's own defense system reacts against some part of the body itself. When the immune system is working normally, it creates antibodies to fight off germs. No one knows why, in Goodpasture syndrome, the immune system makes antibodies that end up attacking the lungs and kidneys. A combination of factors has been implicated, and among these is the presence of an inherited component.

Goodpasture syndrome can cause people to cough up blood or feel a burning sensation when urinating. But the first signs of this disease may be vague, like fatigue, nausea, dyspnea (difficult breathing), or pallor. These signs are followed by kidney involvement, represented first with small amounts of blood in the urine, protein excretion in the urine, and other clinical and laboratory findings.

To diagnose Goodpasture syndrome, doctors can now use a blood test, but a kidney biopsy may be necessary to check for the presence of the harmful antibody.

Goodpasture syndrome is treated with immunosuppressive drugs given by mouth to keep the immune system from making antibodies. Corticosteroids may be given intravenously to control bleeding in the lungs. A process called plasmapheresis (PLAZ-ma-fer-REE-sis) may be helpful and necessary to filter the harmful antibodies from the blood; this is usually done in combination with the steroid treatment.

Goodpasture syndrome may last only a few weeks or as long as 2 years. Bleeding in the lungs can be very serious in some cases. But Goodpasture syndrome does not usually lead to permanent lung damage. Damage to the kidneys, however, may be long-lasting. If the kidneys fail, kidney transplantation or dialysis therapy to remove waste products and extra fluid from the blood may become necessary.

For more information, contact the following organizations:

American Kidney Fund
6110 Executive Boulevard Suite 1010
Rockville, MD 20852

National Kidney Foundation
30 East 33rd Street
New York, NY 10016


Goodpasture's syndrome. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/goodpasture/ . Accessed November 4, 2005.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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