Anti-GBM disease is a disorder in which your body’s immune system creates antibodies that attack your kidneys and lungs. As a result, you may develop one or both of these conditions
- glomerulonephritis NIH external link—inflammation of the glomeruli, tiny units in your kidney that filter wastes and extra fluid from your blood
- bleeding in your lungs
If left untreated, the anti-GBM disease can quickly get worse and may lead to kidney failure and death.
Does anti-GBM disease have another name?
Anti-GBM disease is sometimes also called Goodpasture’s disease. Another related term is Goodpasture syndrome, a condition that also affects the kidneys and lungs but is not caused by anti-GBM antibodies.
How common is anti-GBM disease?
Anti-GBM disease is rare, with only about 1 in 1 million new cases being reported per year.
Who is more likely to develop the anti-GBM disease?
Anti-GBM disease most often affects men in their 20s and women in their 60s, but it can occur at any age. The condition can occur in children, but this is extremely rare.
What are the complications of having an anti-GBM disease?
If not treated promptly, the anti-GBM disease can cause serious complications, such as
- severe kidney inflammation, which can quickly lead to kidney failure
- severe bleeding in the lungs, which can cause respiratory failure NIH external link
What are the symptoms of the anti-GBM disease?
Anti-GBM disease most often starts with symptoms such as
- fatigue, or feeling tired
- general body discomfort or pain
- nausea and vomiting
These symptoms may appear before or along with symptoms of lung and kidney problems.
Symptoms of lung problems may include:
- coughing up blood
- dry cough
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
Symptoms of kidney problems may include
- pink or cola-colored urine from blood in your urine, or hematuria
- swelling in your feet and legs, or edema NIH external link
- high blood pressure, or hypertension
- foamy urine due to too much protein, or proteinuria
Seek a health care professional’s help right away if you have these symptoms.
What causes anti-GBM disease?
Researchers don’t fully understand the cause of anti-GBM disease. A combination of your genes and factors in the environment External link may put you at risk.
Some genetic traits that parents pass on to their children, while uncommon, may affect the risk of developing the anti-GBM disease. For example, scientists have found a link between anti-GBM disease and human leukocyte antigen (HLA) NIH external link, a protein on the surface of cells that plays an important role in the immune response. Some types of HLA may increase your risk of developing the disorder, while others may decrease this risk.
Factors in your environment may also increase your risk of developing the anti-GBM disease. They include
- inhaled hydrocarbons—chemicals derived from petroleum, found in gasoline, kerosene, paint thinner, furniture polish, and other household products
- inhaled cocaine
- contact with metal dust
- use of the medicine alemtuzumab