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Severe hemolysis caused by antibodies against the mushroomPaxillus involutus and its therapy by plasma exchange


It has been shown that fatal “poisoning” with the mushroom speciesPaxillus involutus is caused by antibodies against the fungus in sensitized patients. Because circulating immune complexes play an important role, therapeutic procedures which can eliminate those complexes could stop immune hemolysis. A 37-year-old patient became severely ill after repeated ingestion of sufficiently cookedPaxillus involutus. As a result of hemolysis with reversible shock symptoms, acute renal failure developed. Plasma exchange with 3,000 ml albumin 5% was carried out daily during the first 3 days after admission. Each plasma exchange lowered free hemoglobin and immune complex levels by 60%–75%. Acute renal failure was successfully treated with hemodialysis.

Specific IgG-antibodies against membrane particles ofPaxillus involutus were detected by hemagglutination tests in the serum of the patient. The sequence of reactions resulting from the testing procedures strongly suggests the formation of immune complexes. These complexes are likely to bind to erythrocytes acting as innocent bystanders. Activation of the complement system finally results in hemolysis and shock. In addition to adequate shock treatment elimination of these immune complexes by plasma separation seems to be the therapy of choice.

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Blood urea nitrogen




Heart frequency

HGG eq:

Human γ-globulin equivalent


Lactate dehydrogenase


Midclavicular line


Serum glutamate oxaloacetic transaminase


Serum glutamate pyruvate transaminase


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Winkelmann, M., Stangel, W., Schedel, I. et al. Severe hemolysis caused by antibodies against the mushroomPaxillus involutus and its therapy by plasma exchange. Klin Wochenschr 64, 935–938 (1986).

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Key words

  • Paxillus involutus
  • Immune hemolysis
  • Plasma exchange