Purpose: To determine the relapse rate and outcome in patients with Wegener's granulomatosis treated with daily cyclophosphamide and glucocorticoids to induce remission followed by methotrexate for remission maintenance.
Methods: We performed an open-label prospective study in 42 patients with active Wegener's granulomatosis. All patients were treated with a standardized regimen. Outcomes were assessed using predetermined definitions based on clinical characteristics and pathologic, laboratory, and radiographic findings.
Results: All patients achieved disease remission. The median time to remission was 3 months, and the median time to discontinuation of glucocorticoids was 8 months. During a median of 32 months of follow-up, 1 patient died (of a myocardial infarction not related to vasculitis). Two patients (5%) had to withdraw from the study because of medication toxicity. Twenty-two patients (52%) relapsed, with glomerulonephritis occurring in 16 patients. Of these 16 patients, 4 had an increase of >0.2 mg/dL in serum creatinine level. All 4 patients returned to their prior level of renal function with treatment. None of the 22 relapses met the criteria for severe disease.
Conclusion: The use of cyclophosphamide and glucocorticoids for induction and methotrexate for maintaining remission is an effective and well-tolerated therapeutic approach in patients with active Wegener's granulomatosis.