This study was done to determine whether intravenous methylprednisolone therapy given concomitantly with low-dose daily, oral prednisone would be as effective as highdose daily prednisone in the treatment of patients with active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) nephritis.
Thirteen patients with active SLE nephritis were started on 2 mg/kg prednisone per day, considered the high prednisone phase. Therapy was continued until remission was achieved. Prednisone administration was then tapered to less than 0.5 but more than 0.2 mg/kg per day. On later relapse, these patients received three doses of methylprednisolone (20 mg/kg per dose) on alternate days and continued on the same daily dose of prednisone (<0.5 >0.2 mg/kg per day) prior to pulse therapy; this was the methylprednisolone phase. The 13 patients were studied in both phases, serving as their own controls.
After 1 month of therapy, no significant differences were observed between treatment phases as to improvement in clinical and laboratory findings. A significant increase in the serum concentration of C3 and C4 was seen both in the highdose prednisone and methylprednisolone phases, while the serum concentration of anti-ds DNA antibody significantly decreased.
Methylprednisolone therapy seems as effective as highdose prednisone in patients with relapse of SLE nephritis. Because side effects are minimal, methylprednisolone administration may be tried as the therapy of choice for these patients.