Objective: To make an open label prospective trial for comparing the therapeutic effects of mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) vs cyclophosphamide (CYC) pulse therapy on patients with diffuse proliferative lupus nephritis (DPLN).
Methods: Forty-six patients with biopsy proven active DPLN were enrolled in this study. Twenty-three patients were given MMF orally at a dosage of 1.0 - 1.5 g/d (MMF Group). Another 23 cases received conventional intermittent CYC pulse therapy (CYC Group). Supplemental steroid treatment was offered in the same manner to both groups. The age, sex distribution and severity of renal damage were matched in two groups. Therapeutic effects were evaluated at the end of six-month treatment. Fifteen patients in the MMF Group and 12 patients in the CYC Group had repeated renal biopsy at that time.
Results: MMF therapy was more effective in reducing proteinuria and hematuria. A 50% reduction of urinary protein and urinary red blood cell excretion from baseline value in 69.6% and 91.3% patients in the MMF Group, while only 47.8% and 65.2% in the CYC Group. MMF was more effective in inhibiting autoantibody production (especially anti-dsDNA antibody) and in decreasing serum cryoglobulin levels. Pathologically, the MMF group showed more markedly reduction in glomerular immune deposits with less glomerular necrosis, and less microthrombi, less crescent formation and vascular changes in the repeated renal biopsy as compared with the CYC group. Adverse reactions related to the treatment included gastrointestinal symptoms 26.1% and 43.5% in the MMF and CYC Groups respectively, infection 17.4% in the MMF group and 30.4% in the CYC group.
Conclusion: MMF was more effective in controlling the clinical activity of DPLN and renal vascular lesions as compared with CYC pulse therapy in a 6 month follow-up study.