Controlled trial of pulse methylprednisolone versus two regimens of pulse CYC in severe lupus nephritis
Pulse cyclophosphamide is more effective than prednisone alone in preventing renal failure in lupus nephritis. We undertook a randomised, controlled trial to find out whether pulse methylprednisolone could equal pulse cyclophosphamide in preserving renal function in patients with lupus nephritis, and whether there was a difference between long and short courses of pulse cyclophosphamide in preventing exacerbations. 65 patients (60 female, 5 male; median [range] age 29 [10-48] years) with severe lupus nephritis were assigned randomly to monthly pulse methylprednisolone for 6 months (25 patients), monthly pulse cyclophosphamide for 6 months (20), or monthly cyclophosphamide for 6 months followed by quarterly pulse cyclophosphamide for 2 additional years (20). Patients treated with pulse methylprednisolone had a higher probability of doubling serum creatinine than those treated with long-course cyclophosphamide (p less than 0.04). Risk of doubling creatinine was not significantly different between short and long course cyclophosphamide. However, patients treated with short-course cyclophosphamide had a higher probability of exacerbations than those treated with long-course cyclophosphamide (p less than 0.01). An extended course of pulse cyclophosphamide is more effective than 6 months of pulse methylprednisolone in preserving renal function in patients with severe lupus nephritis. Addition of a quarterly maintenance regimen to monthly pulse cyclophosphamide reduces the rate of exacerbations.