, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 111-117
Date: 01 Sep 2009

The use of low-dose cyclophosphamide followed by AZA/MMF treatment in childhood lupus nephritis

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Cyclophosphamide (CYC) has been the landmark in the treatment of lupus nephritis. However, long-term treatment with CYC is associated with significant side effects. We aimed to evaluate the efficacy of short-term intravenous (IV) CYC treatment as a remission induction treatment followed by azathioprine (AZA) or mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) as a maintenance treatment. Twenty patients (18 girls) with biopsy-proven class III (5) and IV (15) lupus nephritis were included in to the study. Detailed clinical and laboratory data and patient outcomes were evaluated. All patients received three methylprednisolone (MP) IV pulses, followed by oral prednisone 0.5−1 mg/kg per day and one IV pulse of CYC per month for 6 months. Azathioprine was started as a remission-maintaining treatment. In ten of 20 patients, treatment was switched to MMF. The mean age at the time of diagnosis was 16.11 ± 3.49 years, and the mean duration of follow-up was 49.6 ± 27 months. Fourteen patients (70%) had complete remission, three (15%) had partial remission, one (5%) continued to have active disease, and two (10%) progressed to end-stage renal disease. Nine of the patients (45%) with complete remission had received AZA, and switching to MMF increased complete remission rate (additional five patients; 25%). In conclusion, short-term (6-month) IV bolus CYC treatment followed by AZA is a safe and effective treatment in children with severe lupus nephritis, and using MMF increases remission rate in resistant cases.