Adult minimal-change disease: clinical characteristics, treatment, and outcomes

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2007 May;2(3):445-53. doi: 10.2215/CJN.03531006. Epub 2007 Apr 11.


Minimal-change disease (MCD) counts for 10 to 15% of cases of primary nephrotic syndrome in adults. Few series have examined this disease in adults. A retrospective review was performed of 95 adults who had MCD and were seen at a single referral center. Examined were presenting features, response to daily versus alternate-day steroids, response to second-line agents, relapse patterns, complications of the disease and therapy, presence of acute renal failure (ARF), and outcome data. Sixty-five patients received daily and 23 received alternate-day steroids initially. There were no differences in remissions, time to remission, relapse rate, or time to relapse between daily- and alternate-day-treated patients. More than one quarter of patients were steroid resistant. At least one relapse occurred in 73% of patients; 28% were frequently relapsing. A significant proportion of frequently relapsing patients became steroid dependent. Second-line agents were used for steroid dependence, steroid resistance, or frequent relapses. No single agent proved superior. There were more remissions with second-line agents in steroid-dependent patients compared with steroid-resistant patients, and remissions were more likely to be complete in steroid-dependent patients. ARF occurred in 24 patients; they tended to be older and hypertensive with lower serum albumin and more proteinuria than those without ARF. At follow up, patients with an episode of ARF had higher serum creatinine than those without ARF. Four patients progressed to ESRD. These patients were less likely to have responded to steroids and more likely to have FSGS on repeat renal biopsy. In this referral MCD population, response to daily and alternate-day steroids is similar. Second-line agents give greater response in patients who are steroid dependent. ARF occurs in a significant number of adult MCD patients and may leave residual renal dysfunction. Few patients progress to ESRD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / etiology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cyclophosphamide / therapeutic use
  • Cyclosporine / therapeutic use
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Resistance
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephrosis, Lipoid / blood
  • Nephrosis, Lipoid / complications
  • Nephrosis, Lipoid / drug therapy*
  • Nephrosis, Lipoid / physiopathology*
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Steroids / administration & dosage
  • Steroids / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Steroids
  • Cyclosporine
  • Cyclophosphamide