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J Rheumatol. 2012 Nov;39(11):2111-7. doi: 10.3899/jrheum.120537. Epub 2012 Sep 15.

Renal outcome in patients with lupus nephritis using a steroid-free regimen of monthly intravenous cyclophosphamide: a prospective observational study.

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Department of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Rheumatology and the Department of Nephrology, Heinrich-Heine University, Duesseldorf, Germany.



Intravenous cyclophosphamide (IV CYC) in combination with high doses of corticosteroids is considered the "gold standard" of therapy for lupus nephritis (LN). However, the optimal dose of corticosteroids needed has not been defined. We evaluated the efficacy of a monotherapy with IV CYC in patients with a first episode of LN (duration ≤ 6 months).


Forty patients with LN received IV CYC (12 pulses). Prednisone alone was administered and dose-adjusted to control extrarenal manifestations. Response after 24 months was defined as normalization of creatinine level, inactive urinary sediment, and proteinuria ≤ 0.2 g/day [complete response (CR)] or ≤ 0.5 g/day [partial response (PR)].


CR was achieved in 25 (62.5%) and PR in 8 (20%) patients. Mean starting dose of prednisone was 23.9 ± 23.8 mg/day. In a posthoc analysis, we separately analyzed patients initially treated with prednisone doses ≥ 20 mg/day (Group A, n = 19) or < 20 mg/day (Group B, n = 21). CR was achieved in 52.6% (Group A) versus 71.4% (Group B; p = 0.37); and PR in 26.3% versus 14.3%, respectively (p = 0.58). During longterm followup (10.4 ± 3.1 yrs), 37.8% experienced a renal flare. Thirty patients (81%) still have normal renal function. Renal outcome was irrespective of initial prednisone doses (p = 0.46, Pearson chi-square test of independence).


Our rates of CR and PR and longterm outcomes were comparable with rates after treatment with a combination of IV CYC with high doses of corticosteroids. These data warrant randomized controlled trials evaluating different doses of corticosteroids in LN.

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