What is Goodpasture Syndrome?
Goodpasture syndrome is a cluster of acute illnesses that mainly affects the lungs and kidneys. It involves an autoimmune disorder. Generally, the immune system makes antibodies to fight off germs.
But with Goodpasture syndrome, the immune system mistakenly makes antibodies that attack the lungs and kidneys. This condition can quickly progress to an inflammation of the kidneys (glomerulonephritis) and kidney failure. The condition can be fatal if not quickly diagnosed and treated.
Goodpasture syndrome most often occurs in people ages 20 to 30 or those older than age 60. It is more common in men. In some cases, bleeding in the lungs may occur.
In most cases, this disease does not cause lasting damage to the lungs. But kidney damage may be long-lasting. If the kidneys fail, kidney transplant or dialysis may be needed.
What causes Goodpasture syndrome?
Medical experts are not certain what causes this disease. It can run in families, so genetics may play a role or the disease may occur because of a combination of other factors.
These can include exposure to certain chemicals, such as dry cleaning chemicals or the weed killer paraquat. Viral infections, smoking, or medicines may also play a role.
How is Goodpasture syndrome diagnosed?
Your doctor will review your health history and do a physical exam. Other tests include:
- Blood tests - These tests look for high blood levels of waste products that are normally cleared by the kidney into the urine. Circulating antibodies are also found by blood tests.
- Urine tests - Protein may be found in the urine along with red and white blood cells, and groups of cells and cellular material stuck together (granular casts).
- Kidney biopsy - A test in which tissue samples are removed and checked under a microscope.
- Chest X-ray - This looks for changes to the lungs.
What are the symptoms of Goodpasture syndrome?
These are the most common symptoms of Goodpasture syndrome:
- Lack of energy or tiring easily (fatigue)
- Trouble breathing
- Pale skin
As the condition progresses, other symptoms may occur, including:
- Coughing up blood
- Burning feeling when urinating
Over time, symptoms of kidney involvement may occur, including:
- Small amounts of blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Protein in the urine (proteinuria)
The symptoms of Goodpasture syndrome may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your doctor for a diagnosis.
What is the treatment for Goodpasture syndrome?
Your doctor will figure out the best treatment for you depending on:
- How old you are
- Your overall health and medical history
- How sick you are
- How well you can handle certain medicines, procedures, or therapies
- How long the condition is expected to last
- Your opinion or preference
Treatment may include:
- Immunosuppressive medicines - These medicines keep your immune system from making antibodies. They can also make you at greater risk for infections. So you may also be prescribed antibiotics.
- Corticosteroids - Used to decrease inflammation and tissue damage which helps control bleeding in your lungs.
- Plasmapheresis - This is a process in which blood plasma is extracted, cleaned of harmful antibodies, and then returned to your body. It is usually given with steroids.