Idiopathic membranous nephropathy and nephrotic syndrome: outcome in the era of evidence-based therapy

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2012 Jan;27(1):235-42. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfr220. Epub 2011 May 10.


Background: Contemporary studies analysing the long-term outcomes of patients with idiopathic membranous nephropathy and nephrotic syndrome in the era of evidence-based antiproteinuric and immunosuppressive therapies are sparse. Controversy also persists regarding which immunosuppression (IS) regimen to use. In this retrospective cohort study, we aimed to characterize time to partial remission (PR), complete remission (CR), requirement for renal replacement therapy (RRT) or death. We aimed to assess which factors predicted RRT or death and determine the impact of IS on outcome.

Methods: Ninety-five consecutive adult patients attending two centres between 1997 and 2008 were identified. Baseline demographics and subsequent treatment and outcome were recorded.

Results: Ninety-five percent of patients were prescribed angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and/or angiotensin-receptor blocker (ACEI/ARB) therapy, 78% statin therapy, 70% antiplatelets and 38% IS. The 5-year actuarial rates for PR, CR, RRT and death were 76.4, 24.4, 11.9 and 16.8%, respectively. In patients achieving at least one PR, the 5-year actuarial risk of relapse was 32.8%. Using multivariate survival analysis, achievement of remission was the factor most strongly associated with reduced risk of RRT or death. There was no significant difference in outcomes between patients who did or did not receive IS, although patients receiving IS had more severe disease. Contrary to published findings, 81.8% of patients treated with the Ponticelli regimen (6 months of alternating prednisolone and cyclophosphamide or chlorambucil) suffered significant treatment-related complications compared with 19% of patients prescribed the Cattran regimen (prolonged combined low-dose prednisolone and cyclosporine).

Conclusions: Using an approach of widespread ACEI/ARB treatment and targeted IS, 76% of patients can expect to have achieved at least one PR by 5 years. Achievement of remission is the factor most strongly associated with reduced risk of RRT and death. Treatment with IS is associated with significant treatment complications.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / drug therapy
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / etiology
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / etiology
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / mortality*
  • Remission Induction
  • Renal Replacement Therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Creatinine