A 20-Year-Old Man With a Dark, Burning Rash

Christian Beebe, MD, MBA


August 13, 2015

This patient was admitted to the hospital, and vigorous volume expansion with normal saline at 250 mL/h was started. His creatinine clearance was 182.7 mL/min (within normal limits). His antistreptolysin O titer was notable, at 722 Todd U/mL (normal range, 0-117 Todd U/mL). Even with his severe skin manifestations, the severity of this patient's Henoch-Schönlein purpura nephritis on admission was low. The patient's positive antistreptolysin O titer pointed to a recent presumed streptococcal pharyngitis.

The skin biopsy report was significant for small-vessel leukocytoclastic vasculitis. The immunofluorescence study of the sample demonstrated a weak to moderate linear pattern at the dermal/epidermal junction, with IgG, IgA, and C3, which was consistent with the diagnosis of Henoch-Schönlein purpura.

On admission, the patient's protein-to-creatinine ratio was 5.5, consistent with nephrotic-range proteinuria, or > 3.5 g of protein per day. A normal protein-to-creatinine ratio is < 0.2.[14] Although the nephrology service was consulted early in the clinical course and the patient was started on high-dose intravenous methylprednisolone therapy at 1 g divided twice a day on hospital day 1, his condition rapidly worsened. By hospital day 4, the patient's serum creatinine was 1.1 mg/dL, and his protein-to-creatinine ratio had increased to 15.1. His urine volume was 1850 mL on that day, with 24-hour protein and creatinine excretion of 35.8 g and 2384 mg, respectively.

The patient, although still normotensive, had developed prominent edema consistent with nephrotic syndrome. Because his renal status had worsened significantly, he was transferred to a tertiary care center for further nephrology care. A subsequent renal biopsy demonstrated diffuse proliferative endocapillary glomerulonephritis consistent with IgA nephropathy or Henoch-Schönlein purpura. Mild chronic tubulointerstitial disease and mild hyaline arteriolar sclerosis were noted as well. A regimen of cyclophosphamide was initiated, but the patient deteriorated to end-stage renal disease by the time this case was compiled.


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