Conditions & Treatments

Goodpasture Syndrome

Goodpasture syndrome is a rare, autoimmune disease that can affect the lungs and kidneys.

Goodpasture Syndrome

Illustration of the anatomy of the kidney
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What is Goodpasture syndrome?

Goodpasture syndrome is a rare, autoimmune disease that can affect the lungs and kidneys. Normally, the immune system creates antibodies to fight off germs. With Goodpasture syndrome, however, the immune system makes antibodies that attack the lungs and kidneys, instead of the germs.

According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, this condition may last anywhere from a few weeks to as long as two years. In some cases, bleeding in the lungs may occur--resulting in a very serious condition. However, in most cases, Goodpasture syndrome does not cause permanent damage to the lungs. Damage to the kidneys, however, may be long-lasting. If the kidneys fail, kidney transplantation or dialysis therapy may become necessary.

What causes Goodpasture syndrome?

Goodpasture syndrome may be an inherited condition, or may develop as a result of a combination of factors. What causes it is not fully understood. A reaction to certain chemicals, including hydrocarbon solvents, the weed killer Paraquat, and viral infections may play a role. 

What are the symptoms of Goodpasture syndrome?

The following are the most common symptoms of Goodpasture syndrome. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea

  • Dyspnea. Difficult breathing.

  • Pallor. A pale appearance to the skin.

As the condition progresses, other symptoms may occur, including the following:

  • Coughing up blood

  • Feeling a burning sensation when urinating

Eventually, symptoms of kidney involvement may occur, including the following:

  • Small amounts of blood in the urine

  • Protein excretion in the urine

  • Other clinical and laboratory findings

The symptoms of Goodpasture syndrome may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is Goodpasture syndrome diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for Goodpasture syndrome may include the following:

  • Blood tests. Laboratory examination of blood for high levels of waste products.

  • Kidney biopsy. A procedure in which tissue samples are removed (with a needle or during surgery) from the body for examination under a microscope; to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

What is the treatment for Goodpasture syndrome?

Specific treatment for Goodpasture syndrome will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the disease

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Immunosuppressive medications. Medications to keep the immune system from making antibodies.

  • Corticosteroids. Used to control bleeding in the lungs.

  • Plasmapheresis. A process usually administered in combination with the steroid treatment to filter any harmful antibodies from the blood.

Treatment Programs


Massachusetts General Hospital understands that a variety of factors influence patients' health care decisions. That's just one reason why we're dedicated to ensuring patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Because a single option might not serve all patients, we offer a wide range of coordinated treatments and related services across the hospital. Patients should consult with their primary care doctor or other qualified health care provider for medical advice and diagnosis information.

Select a treatment program for more information:



Imaging

  • Pediatric Imaging
    The Pediatric Imaging Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging specializes in ensuring the safety and comfort of child patients while providing the latest technology and the expertise of specialized pediatric radiologists.
  • Adult Medicine Imaging
    The Adult Medicine Imaging Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging offers a wide range of diagnostic exams and minimally invasive, image-guided treatments, all provided using leading-edge equipment and interpreted by specialty-trained radiologists.
MassGeneral Hospital for Children

  • Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine
    The Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at MassGeneral Hospital for Children is a well-established clinical, training and research program. The group provides multidisciplinary comprehensive consultation, diagnostic and management services for a wide array of pulmonary conditions.
Transplant Center

  • Kidney/Pancreas/Islet Transplant Programs
    The Kidney/Pancreas/Islet Transplant Programs at Massachusetts General Hospital provide new and unique treatment options for patients with end-stage renal disease (kidney failure) and/or type 1 diabetes.
Nephrology Division

  • Center for Renal Education
    The Center for Renal Education provides education about Chronic Kidney Disease and its management and individualized plans of care that include nutritional counseling, blood pressure management, medication review and supportive services.
  • Resistant Hypertension Program
    The Resistant Hypertension Program specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis and management of patients with resistant or difficult to treat hypertension.
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Clinic
    The Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital specializes in the diagnosis and management of cystic kidney diseases.
  • Chronic Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) Program
    The Peritoneal Dialysis Unit provides training and long term management for the patient who selects peritoneal dialysis as home therapy. Staffed by experienced peritoneal dialysis nurses, manual and automated home peritoneal dialysis is available.

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