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Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2011 Jun;32(3):346-70. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1279831. Epub 2011 Jun 14.

Immunosuppressive and cytotoxic therapy: pharmacology, toxicities, and monitoring.

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Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care Medicine, Allergy, and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine, The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California.


Treatment strategies for anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis (AAV) are evolving. Cyclophosphamide (CYC) plus corticosteroids (CSs) is the mainstay of therapy for generalized, multisystemic AAV. Historically, the combination of CYC plus CS was used for a minimum of 12 months, but concern about late toxicities associated with CYC has led to novel treatment approaches. Currently, short-course (3 to 6 months) induction treatment with CYC plus CS, followed by maintenance therapy with less toxic agents (eg, methotrexate, azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil) is recommended. Further, methotrexate combined with CS may be adequate for limited, non-life-threatening AAV. Recent studies suggest that rituximab may be useful for induction therapy or for CYC-refractory AAV. This article reviews the key agents used to treat AAV, with a focus on pharmacology, toxicities, and monitoring.

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