Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
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 cells called 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.
Kidney Fund: http://www.akfinc.orgNational
Kidney Foundation: http://www.kidney.org