Goodpasture syndrome is an autoimmune disease of unknown cause that affects the lungs and kidneys and is characterized by pulmonary alveolar hemorrhage (bleeding in the lungs), and a kidney disease known as glomerulonephritis. Some use the term "Goodpasture syndrome" for the findings of glomerulonephritis and pulmonary hemorrhage and the term "Goodpasture disease" for those patients with glomerulonephritis, pulmonary hemorrhage, and anti-GBM antibodies. Currently, the preferred term for both conditions is “anti-GBM antibody disease”. Circulating antibodies are directed against the collagen of the part of the kidney known as the glomerular basement membrane (GBM), thereby resulting in acute or rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis. Antibodies also attack the collagen of the air sacs of the lung (alveolus) resulting in bleeding of the lung (pulmonary hemorrhage). Anti-GBM antibody disease is most often idiopathic, although it can occasionally follow pulmonary infections or be associated with pulmonary injury. Diagnosis is confirmed with the presence of anti-GBM antibody in blood or in the kidney. The treatment of choice is plasmapheresis in conjunction with prednisone and cyclophosphamide.
Last updated: 9/22/2015
What causes Goodpasture syndrome?
There is still much to learn about the cause of Goodpasture syndrome. It is thought that a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke, inhaled hydrocarbons, and viruses play a role in the development of this autoimmune condition.
In autoimmune disorders, the body makes antibodies that attacks its own tissues. In the case of Goodpasture syndrome, antibodies form against a certain type of protein called collagen. Collagen is present in many tissues in the body. In Goodpasture syndrome, collagen in the alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs) and in the glomeruli (the filtering units of the kidney) is attacked. This leads to bleeding in the air sacs and inflammation in the glomeruli of the kidney. Symptoms of the antibody attack may include shortness of breath, cough, and bloody sputum, blood and protein in the urine, and kidney failure.
Genetic predisposition to Goodpasture syndrome involves the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system. The HLA system is involved in helping our immune system know the difference between "self" and "non-self." Human leukocyte antigens determine a person's tissue type. Each person has 3 pairs of major HLA antigens. We inherit one set from each of our parents (and pass one of our two sets on to each of our children).
Below we have provided some facts regarding HLA antigens and Goodpasture syndrome:
A certain HLA antigen, HLA-DR2, is found in 88% of patients with Goodpasture syndrome, as compared to 25-32% of those without it.
People with Goodpasture syndrome who have two types of HLA antigens: HLA-B8 and HLA-DR2 tend to have a worse prognosis.
HLA antigen types HLA-DR7 and HLA-DR1 are thought to confer some protection against developing Goodpasture syndrome.
Last updated: 5/20/2016
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