OBJECTIVE - To evaluate the safety and efficacy of mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) treatment in patients with lupus nephritis.
METHODS - Eighteen patients with biopsy-proven lupus nephritis (17 females, one male; mean age 31.6 yr; mean lupus duration 92 months; mean duration of nephritis 57 months; nine with focal proliferative glomerulonephritis, three with diffuse proliferative glomerulonephritis, six with membranous nephropathy) were included. With five exceptions, all patients had been treated previously with cyclophosphamide and were selected because of either toxicity or inadequate clinical response to treatment. MMF was given at 2 g daily in combination with steroids for up to 31 months (mean 15.3 months). The side-effects of MMF were recorded and efficacy was assessed as the renal function profile.
RESULTS - Complete remission was observed in 10/18 patients and another 4/18 went into partial remission. Both creatinine clearance and proteinuria were significantly improved during MMF treatment in patients with the proliferative forms of nephritis. MMF demonstrated a steroid-sparing effect in the whole population. Treatment failure was recorded in 4/18 patients, all with membranous nephropathy. Two patients developed gastrointestinal complaints and infectious meningitis occurred in one patient.
CONCLUSION - MMF appears to be an efficacious and safe treatment in patients with proliferative forms of lupus nephritis who do not respond to or cannot tolerate conventional treatment. The efficacy of MMF in lupus membranous nephropathy remains unclear.