Mycophenolate mofetil and cyclosporine therapy in membranous nephropathy

Semin Nephrol. 2003 May;23(3):272-7. doi: 10.1016/s0270-9295(03)00051-2.


Idiopathic membranous nephropathy (IMN) remains one of the most common causes of the nephrotic syndrome (NS) in adults. Although the natural history is extremely variable, approximately two thirds of the patients will have persistent high-grade proteinuria and/or develop renal failure over a decade of observation. On the other hand, the remaining third of patients will remit spontaneously and potentially toxic therapy should be avoided in this group. Our capacity to predict which patient will progress at an early stage of the disease has improved substantially in the past 10 years. We present the data from studies of cyclosporine (CSA) and mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) treatment of IMN with their level of evidence in support of efficacy. In addition, based on data related to predicting prognosis, we assign a risk for progression category to the trial patients at entry into these studies. The data are presented in this format so the reader will be able to better discern the risk benefit of treatment within each category and the rationale for our subsequent grade of recommendation for the use of these agents in IMN. CSA has been shown in randomized controlled trials in both the medium and high risk of progression categories of IMN patients to improve proteinuria and preserve renal function at least in the short term in up to two thirds of patients. Other studies suggest prolonged therapy beyond 6 months to 1 year may reduce the high relapse rate after CSA treatment supporting more long-term, continuous, or combination therapy in IMN treatment. The data in favor of MMF treatment of this disease is much weaker and are derived from pilot studies. Only one report applied MMF specifically to IMN patients. In these medium to high risk of progression patients, approximately one-half had a 50% reduction in their baseline proteinuria without a significant alteration in their serum creatinine level. MMF's role as a single agent or as adjunctive therapy in the treatment of IMN needs more rigorous evaluation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cyclosporine / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Mycophenolic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Mycophenolic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclosporine
  • Mycophenolic Acid