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Int J Artif Organs. 1992 Mar;15(3):181-4.

Plasma exchange treatment in rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis associated with anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies.

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  • 1Institute of Nephrology, St Orsola University Hospital, Bologna, Italy.


This study reports on 12 patients with acute renal failure due to biopsy-proven rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis and signs of systemic disease in whom antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies (ANCA) were detected by indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) on alcohol-fixed neutrophils and assessed in serial determinations by ELISA. The diagnosis was: Wegener's granulomatosis in nine patients who showed a diffuse cytoplasmic pattern at IIF (c-ANCA), and microscopic polyarteritis in three where a perinuclear pattern (p-ANCA) was seen. All patients underwent a course of plasma exchange - PE - (3-10 sessions per patient) associated with steroids and cyclophosphamide. The ANCA titer dropped steeply during PE in all cases and was followed by disappearance of systemic symptoms and renal function improvement within four weeks. After a follow-up period of 50 +/- 31.2 months all patients were alive without signs of disease activity; ten had stable renal function, with serum creatinine 1.8 +/- 0.7 mg/dl; two had entered regular dialysis treatment after 44 and 82 months. Our results suggest that the rapid removal of ANCA by means of PE can help control disease activity and reduce the risk of death or end-stage renal disease.

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