Mycophenolate mofetil therapy in frequently relapsing steroid-dependent and steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome of childhood: current status and future directions

Pediatr Nephrol. 2005 Oct;20(10):1376-81. doi: 10.1007/s00467-005-1964-z. Epub 2005 Jun 24.


Clinicians are often faced with therapeutic dilemmas and challenges while treating children with frequently relapsing steroid-dependent nephrotic syndrome (SDNS) and steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS). In the past, children with SDNS have been treated with long-term alternate day steroids cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine (CSA), chlorambucil, levamisole, and azathioprine. The essential aim of these therapies is to maintain remission while limiting exposure to steroids. These medications have variable efficacy and undesirable toxicity profiles. Recently, mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) has emerged as a new therapeutic option for the management of SDNS in a few uncontrolled clinical trials. Preliminary data are encouraging. MMF was found to be useful in maintaining remission and has a steroid-sparing effect. Clearly, more data are needed to further characterize the safety and efficacy of MMF, define adequate length of treatment, and optimize drug exposure and monitoring. The management of SRNS is primarily aimed at decreasing proteinuria and inducing remission, if possible. By doing so, one would aim to preserve renal function. CSA therapy is known to be useful in this regard but has undesirable side effects, the most concerning being nephrotoxicity. MMF in combination with steroids and angiotensin-converting enzyme-inhibitor drugs is known to have some efficacy in the management of SRNS. These preliminary data have prompted the National Institutes of Health to sponsor a multicentric controlled trial to compare the safety and efficacy of MMF with that of CSA in the treatment of steroid-resistant focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). If MMF therapy is found to be efficacious, it would help obviate the need for CSA and its associated nephrotoxicity. Clearly, MMF has emerged as an important new therapeutic option for the treatment of childhood nephrotic syndrome and FSGS. Further data are required to assess those conditions most likely to respond.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug Resistance
  • Humans
  • IMP Dehydrogenase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mycophenolic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Mycophenolic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Retreatment
  • Steroids / adverse effects*
  • Steroids / therapeutic use


  • Steroids
  • IMP Dehydrogenase
  • Mycophenolic Acid