[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Therapy of systemic lupus erythematosus has been facing the paradox of an overwhelming rate of trials testing novel potential therapeutic agents and the lack of US FDA approval of a single new drug for over five decades. Heterogeneity in disease phenotype, concomitant immunosuppressive medication and a lack of unequivocal hard end points for clinical trials have proven to be significant obstacles in establishing efficacy of candidate therapies. Nevertheless, combination regimens with already existing agents have shown efficacy with acceptable safety profiles, mainly in cases of refractory to conventional treatment disease. At the same time, positive results from trials with belimumab, an antibody that targets B cells, opened the way for approval of this agent for the treatment of lupus and lends hope for a new era in systemic lupus erythematosus therapeutics. Here, we review the latest advances in systemic lupus erythematosus therapy, focusing on the balance between efficacy and safety for combination therapeutic regimens and biologics under development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the MAINTAIN Nephritis Trial, azathioprine (AZA) and mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) were compared as maintenance immunosuppressive treatment of proliferative lupus nephritis (LN) after a short-course of intravenous cyclophosphamide. Here, we compare the pathological findings on repeat kidney biopsies between the two groups.
Per protocol, repeat renal biopsies were obtained in 30 patients (16 AZA and 14 MMF) at 2 years (±6 months). Baseline and follow-up biopsies were graded according to the International Society of Nephrology/Renal Pathological Society (ISN/RPS) classification. The activity and chronicity indices (AI, CI) were calculated using two different semiquantitative scoring systems (Morel-Maroger and National Institutes of Health). Statistics were performed by non-parametric tests.
The clinical characteristics of the 30 re-biopsied patients only marginally differ from the entire MAINTAIN cohort (105 patients). Clinical baseline and follow-up characteristics of AZA- and MMF-treated re-biopsied patients did not differ. Time (SD) to repeat renal biopsy was 25.0 (2.0) and 26.5 (3.3) months in AZA and MMF patients, respectively. More patients had normal renal biopsies or Classes I/II/V LN at follow-up compared to baseline and conversely, less patients had Class IV LN at follow-up. In both groups, the AI statistically decreased at follow-up compared to baseline, while the CI slightly, but significantly, increased. No differences could be detected between the groups.
Centralized pathological analyses, including ISN/RPS classification and comparisons of AI/CI, failed to find differences between MMF and AZA at 2 years, a result well in line with the absence of difference in long-term clinical outcome reported elsewhere.
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