Dr. MJ Bazos MD, Patient Handout
Goodpasture Syndrome

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.

American Kidney Fund: http://www.akfinc.org

National Kidney Foundation: http://www.kidney.org