Objective: Although in most patients with WG, induction therapy leads to complete remission (CR), the high relapse rate remains a major problem. This study was undertaken to identify potential predictors of these relapses.
Methods: WG outcomes of patients included in two randomized trials were analysed. Patients were categorized into a predominant form of the disease using a scoring system composed of three granulomatous criteria (ear, nose and throat manifestations; lung nodules; and orbital pseudotumour) and three vascular criteria (serum creatinine >125 µmol/l, haematuria or proteinuria and alveolar haemorrhage).
Results: Among 174 patients, 152 (87%) entered CR with CSs and CYC. The risk of death was higher for the vascular form [odds ratio (OR) 3.5 (95% CI 1.1, 11.4)]. With a median follow-up of 50 months, 66 out of 152 patients experienced a relapse (5-year relapse rate: 49%). Multivariate analysis retained the following variables at diagnosis as independent predictors of relapse: specific cardiac involvement [hazard ratio (HR) 2.9 (95% CI 1.3, 6.5)], ANCA with cytoplasmic-labelling pattern (c-ANCA) [HR 2.1 (95% CI 1.1, 4.3)] and higher age [HR 1.4 (95% CI 1.1, 1.7)]. Conversely, severe renal insufficiency was associated with a lower relapse rate [HR 0.4 (95% CI, 0.2-0.8)]. Comparing predominant granulomatous vs predominant vascular disease, relapses were more frequent and earlier with decreasing risk over time.
Conclusions: Increased risk of first WG relapse after initial remission appears to be related to heart involvement, age and c-ANCA positivity at onset. Predominant granulomatous presentation disease seems to be associated with poorer outcomes after CR. These findings may help adapt treatment strategies.