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ANCA-positive vasculitis induced by levamisole-adulterated cocaine and nephrotic syndrome: The kidney as an unusual target

Hortensia Álvarez Díaz, Ana Isabel Mariño Callejo, José Francisco García Rodríguez, Laura Rodríguez Pazos, Inmaculada Gómez Buela, Ana María Bermejo Barrera

(Department of Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases Unit, University Hospital of Ferrol, Health Area of Ferrol, SERGAS, A Coruña, Spain)

Am J Case Rep 2013; 14:557-561

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.889731

Published: 2013-12-30


Background: Levamisole has been detected in seized cocaine samples and a levamisole-induced vasculopathy (LIV) has been described, mainly focused on skin.
Case Report: A 36-year-old Caucasian man with history of antibodies to hepatitis C infection (negative hepatitis C virus RNA and negative HIV serology), smoking, and intravenous use of cocaine and brown heroin, presented to the hospital with purpuric skin lesions on extremities and earlobes. One month before the current presentation, a skin punch biopsy of one of these lesions was performed, showing histopathologic findings suggestive of mixed cryoglobu­linemia. Laboratory testing revealed leukopenia, renal failure, and nephrotic syndrome. Antimyeloperoxidase antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (MPO-ANCA) were positive. The previous skin punch biopsy was revised and demonstrated pathologic findings consistent with leukocytoclastic vasculitis. An ­analysis of a cocaine sample for personal use, provided by the patient, was performed using mass spectrometry-gas chromatography and levamisole was detected. Three boluses of intravenous methylprednisolone were administered, followed by oral prednisone 1 mg/Kg per day. Skin lesions and renal function improved.
Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first report of nephrotic syndrome induced by levamisole-adulterated cocaine, proven by cocaine sample toxicology. Lack of renal biopsy is a limitation of this report.

Keywords: nephrotic syndrome, Vasculitis, Cocaine, Levamisole



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