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Lupus. 2013 Oct;22(11):1135-41. doi: 10.1177/0961203313502864. Epub 2013 Aug 30.

Combined low-dose mycophenolate mofetil and tacrolimus for lupus nephritis with suboptimal response to standard therapy: a 12-month prospective study.

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Department of Medicine, Tuen Mun Hospital, Hong Kong, China.



The objective of this paper is to evaluate the efficacy of combined mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) and tacrolimus (TAC) for lupus nephritis with suboptimal response to standard therapy.


Inclusion criteria for patients: (1) biopsy-confirmed active lupus nephritis; and (2) inadequate response to ≥ 2 immunosuppressive regimens. While prednisolone (≤ 10 mg/day) and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors were continued, immunosuppressive agents were replaced by combined MMF (1 g/day) and TAC (4 mg/day). Patients were followed every 2 months for the clinical response and adverse events at 12 months.


Twenty-one patients were recruited (20 women; age 35.8 ± 9.2 years; systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) duration 111 ± 51 months). The histological classes of lupus nephritis were: IV/III (33%), V+III/IV (33%) and pure V (33%). The creatinine clearance (CrCl), urine protein-to-creatinine ratio (uP/Cr) and serum albumin was 82.4 ± 33 ml/min (<90 ml/min in 57%), 3.27 ± 1.5 and 30.1 ± 5.9 g/l, respectively. Thirteen (62%) patients had active urinary sediments and 17 (81%) patients had active lupus serology. At 12 months, eight (38%) patients had very good response, one (5%) patient had good response and five (24%) patients had partial response. Significant improvement in uP/Cr, albumin, complement C3 and anti-dsDNA titer, and stabilization of CrCl was observed in the responders. Thirty-three adverse events were reported in 18 patients: major infection requiring hospitalization (6%), infection not requiring hospitalization (27%), herpes infection (9%), diarrhea (12%), cramps (9%), dyspepsia (6%), transient increase in serum Cr (6%), alopecia (4%), facial twitching (3%), tremor (3%) and diabetes mellitus (3%). None of these had led to protocol withdrawal.


Combined low-dose MMF and TAC is an option for lupus nephritis that fails to respond adequately to standard regimens, with two-thirds of patients improving after 12 months. Longer-term observation is needed to confirm its efficacy and safety.


Glomerulonephritis; nephropathy; recalcitrant; resistant; treatment

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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