, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 242-248
Date: 06 Jun 2012

Treatment of ANCA-Associated Vasculitis, Where to Go?

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The introduction of (oral) cyclophosphamide (CYC) in the treatment of ANCA-associated vasculitides (AAV) has strongly improved prognosis but the side effects of long-term CYC treatment are serious. A number of recent randomized controlled studies have shown that the cumulative dose of CYC can be strongly reduced in the treatment of AAV or even reduced to zero. Maintenance treatment can be performed with azathioprine (AZA), or methotrexate (MTX) in case of intolerance, although the intensity and duration of maintenance treatment is still under discussion. More insight into the mechanisms involved in relapsing disease might allow individualized treatment. Induction of remission can be achieved in cases of mild disease expression with MTX but requires maintenance treatment to prevent relapses. Generalized disease can be treated with pulses of i.v. CYC or, possibly, with MMF. However, recent studies demonstrate the efficacy of RTX in inducing remission without the concomitant use of immunosuppressives. Corticosteroids are part of treatment in all regimens but the intensity and duration of steroid treatment is still being discussed. In life-threatening disease, the adjunctive efficacy of plasma exchange has been demonstrated and its usefulness in less severe disease is under investigation. Taken together, there are, indeed, alternatives for CYC in AAV.