The treatment of glomerulonephritis in children

Abstract

The results of treatment of glomerulonephritis (GN) in childhood with oral corticosteroids, immunosuppressive drugs, anticoagulants and the newer regimens of pulsed, high-dose intravenous methylprednisolone and plasma exchange are reviewed and compared with the natural history of the untreated condition. Poststreptococcal GN and the nephritis of Schönlein-Henoch purpura need no specific treatment unless extensive glomerular crescents are present. The progression of mesangiocapillary GN can probably be slowed or even reversed with long-term, alternate-day steroid therapy. As in adults, recovery of renal function in GN due to antibody to glomerular basement membrane can be achieved in some patients using plasma exchange, but only those in whom some renal function is still present when treatment is started. In rapidly progressive (extracapillary) GN with crescents, “traditional” therapy with oral steroids, immunosuppressive drugs and anticoagulants reduces renal mortality from 85%–90% to about 50%, while pulsed methylprednisolone and plasma exchange improve the outcome further, mortality falling to about 25%. It is recommended that children with crescentic GN and deteriorating function be treated initially with pulsed methylprednisolone, followed by plasma exchange in those who fail to respond or who deteriorate following temporary response to pulse therapy. Treatment must be given early in the course of the illness if good results are to be obtained.

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Haycock, G.B. The treatment of glomerulonephritis in children. Pediatr Nephrol 2, 247–255 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00862601

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Key words

  • Anticoagulants
  • Children
  • Corticosteroids
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Immunosuppression
  • Methylprednisolone
  • Plasma exchange