UBC Faculty Research and Publications

A case of aggressive atypical anti-GBM disease complicated by CMV pneumonitis Sporinova, Barbora; McRae, Susanna A; Muruve, Daniel A; Fritzler, Marvin J; Nasr, Samih H; Chin, Alex C; Benediktsson, Hallgrimur


Background: Anti-glomerular basement membrane (anti-GBM) disease is characterized by circulating IgG glomerular basement membrane antibodies and is clinically expressed as a rapidly progressive crescentic glomerulonephritis (GN), with 30–60% of patients also developing pulmonary hemorrhage. Classically, the renal biopsy shows glomerular crescent formation, bright linear staining of glomerular basement membranes (GBM) for IgG on direct immunofluorescence (IF), and the serologic presence of circulating anti-GBM antibodies. Recently, patients with linear IgG IF staining, undetectable circulating anti-GBM antibodies and glomerular changes atypical for anti-GBM disease have been described as “atypical anti-GBM disease”, with a distinctly more benign clinical course than typical anti-GBM disease. We present a case report of a patient with negative anti-GBM serology but positive linear IgG staining by IF, severe diffuse crescentic and endocapillary proliferative glomerulonephritis, and renal failure, complicated by severe pulmonary hemorrhage after immunosuppression, likely due to cytomegalovirus (CMV) pneumonitis. Case presentation: A 24-year-old man was admitted to hospital with hemoptysis and renal failure. Investigations for anti-GBM serology by addressable laser bead immunoassay (ALBIA) was negative for anti-GBM antibodies. Renal biopsy showed diffuse endocapillary proliferative glomerulonephritis with membranoproliferative features and diffuse circumferential crescents. Direct IF showed strong linear staining for IgG along GBMs. The patient’s hemoptysis improved with immunosuppression, but 1 month later he was readmitted with gross hemoptysis, which was refractory to further cyclophosphamide, plasma exchange and rituximab. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and blood work confirmed CMV pneumonitis, and the patient’s hemoptysis resolved with ganciclovir, though he became dialysis dependent. Conclusions: This case demonstrates an atypical presentation of anti-GBM disease with both crescents and endocapillary hypercellularity and negative serology. The patient is dialysis dependent, unlike most previously described patients with atypical anti-GBM disease. The course was complicated by CMV pneumonitis, which contributed to the severity of the pulmonary manifestations and added diagnostic difficulty.

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