Long-term data on corticosteroids and mycophenolate mofetil treatment in lupus nephritis

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013 Mar;52(3):480-6. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kes293. Epub 2012 Nov 12.


Objective: We investigated the long-term outcome of patients with proliferative LN treated with CSs and MMF.

Methods: This was a single-centre retrospective study on patients with biopsy-proven class III/IV ± V LN treated with prednisolone and MMF continuously as both early and maintenance immunosuppression.

Results: Sixty-five patients were included, and followed for 91.9 (47.7) months. All received prednisolone and MMF as induction immunosuppression. In 31 patients, maintenance immunosuppression comprised prednisolone and MMF only (MMF-MMF group). MMF was replaced with AZA in 23 patients (MMF-AZA), and with calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs) in 11 patients (MMF-CNI) at sometime during follow-up. Ten-year patient and renal survival rates were 91% and 86%, respectively, and were similar in the three groups. MMF-MMF group showed better relapse-free survival than MMF-AZA and MMF-CNI patients (76% vs 56% vs 43%, respectively at 5 years; 69% vs 32% vs 0%, respectively at 10 years; MMF-MMF vs MMF-AZA or MMF-CNI, P = 0.049 or 0.019, respectively; MMF-AZA vs MMF-CNI, P = 0.490). Patients treated with MMF for >24 months had better relapse-free survival than those treated for shorter durations (88% vs 48% at 5 years; 81% vs 28% at 10 years; P < 0.001). Renal function at 10 years was better in the MMF-MMF group. Anaemia was associated with MMF treatment. Other adverse events were comparable and relatively minor with MMF, AZA or CNI as maintenance.

Conclusion: Long-term treatment with CSs and MMF from induction to maintenance phase is associated with relatively favourable long-term outcome in Chinese LN patients. Discontinuation of MMF before 24 months may increase the risk of flares.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lupus Nephritis / drug therapy*
  • Lupus Nephritis / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycophenolic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Mycophenolic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Prednisolone
  • Mycophenolic Acid