A randomized, controlled trial of steroids and cyclophosphamide in adults with nephrotic syndrome caused by idiopathic membranous nephropathy

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2007 Jun;18(6):1899-904. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2007020166. Epub 2007 May 9.


Idiopathic membranous nephropathy (IMN) is the most common cause of nephrotic syndrome in adults. Universal consensus regarding the need for and the modality of therapy has not been formed because of a lack of controlled trials of sufficient size, quality, and duration. This study compared the effect of a 6-mo course of alternating prednisolone and cyclophosphamide with supportive treatment in adults with nephrotic syndrome caused by IMN on doubling of serum creatinine, development of ESRD, and quality of life in a randomized, controlled trial. Patients were followed up for 10 yr. Data were analyzed on an intention-to-treat basis. A total of 93 patients completed the study. Of the 47 patients who received the experimental protocol, 34 achieved remission (15 complete and 19 partial), compared with 16 (five complete, 11 partial) of 46 in the control group (P < 0.0001). The 10-yr dialysis-free survival was 89 and 65% (P = 0.016), and the likelihood of survival without death, dialysis, and doubling of serum creatinine were 79 and 44% (P = 0.0006) in the two groups. Treated patients exhibited significantly lower prevalence of edema, hypertension, hypoalbuminemia, hyperlipidemia that required therapy, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor/angiotensin II receptor blocker use, and better quality of life on follow-up. The incidence of infections was similar in the two groups. In conclusion, untreated IMN with nephrotic syndrome is associated with a high risk for deterioration of renal function. A 6-mo regimen of cyclophosphamide and steroids induces remissions in a high proportion, arrests progression of renal insufficiency, and improves quality of life.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage*
  • Cyclophosphamide / adverse effects
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / drug therapy*
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / immunology
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage*
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / immunology
  • Prednisolone / administration & dosage*
  • Prednisolone / adverse effects
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Prednisolone