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Nephrol Dial Transplant. 1993;8(12):1326-32.

Cyclosporin versus cyclophosphamide for patients with steroid-dependent and frequently relapsing idiopathic nephrotic syndrome: a multicentre randomized controlled trial.

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Division of Nephrology and Dialysis, IRCCS, Ospedale Maggiore, Milan, Italy.



To compare the efficacy (maintenance of remission), safety and tolerability of cyclosporin (CsA) with those of cyclophosphamide in patients with steroid-dependent or frequently relapsing nephrotic syndrome (NS).


Open, prospective, randomized, multicentre, controlled study for parallel groups, stratified for adults and children. The setting was in nephrological departments in Italy.


Seventy-three patients with steroid-sensitive idiopathic NS admitted to the study were randomly assigned to cyclophosphamide (2.5 mg/kg/day) for 8 weeks or CsA (5 mg/kg/day in adults, 6 mg/kg/day in children) for 9 months, tapered off by 25% every month until complete discontinuation at month 12. Seven patients lost to follow up were not considered in the analysis. The remaining 66 patients were followed up for 3-24 months after randomization.


Relapse-free survival; number of N.S. relapses/patient/year; cumulative dose of prednisone/patient; laboratory investigations (kidney and liver functions, haematological parameters); incidence of adverse events.


At month 9, 26 of 35 CsA-treated patients were still in complete remission and a further five patients were in partial remission; 18 of 28 cyclophosphamide-treated patients were in complete remission, and one in partial remission (P = NS). No difference between adults and children was seen with either treatment. The risk of relapse was similar between frequent relapsers (19 of 22) and steroid-dependent patients (8 of 14) given CsA, and those given cyclophosphamide (5 of 15 and 6 of 15). The mean number of relapses per year and the mean dose of prednisone per year were significantly less (P < 0.001) in both groups for the experimental year than for the year before randomization. At 2 years, 25% of the patients given CsA (50% adults and 20% children) and 63% of those given cyclophosphamide (40% adults and 68% children) had not had any relapse of NS. Tolerance to the two drugs was generally good. The CsA-related side-effects were mild and disappeared after drug discontinuation.


This study shows that both treatments are effective and well tolerated; more patients given cyclophosphamide had stable remissions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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