Objective: Tacrolimus has been used for idiopathic membranous nephropathy (IMN) therapy, but most patients who achieved remission showed a high relapse rate when tacrolimus was withdrawn after 6-12 months of therapy. We proposed that a prolonged therapeutic course should help reduce the relapse rate.
Methods: A total of 42 patients with nephrotic syndrome caused by IMN were randomly divided into short-term (n = 20) and long-term (n = 22) groups. All patients received initial treatment with tacrolimus and prednisone for 6 months, and afterward only the long-term patient group was tapered with low-dose tacrolimus until 24 months.
Results: Over 85% of the patients achieved proteinuria reduction, serum albumin improvement and serum lipid recovery; the probability of remission in both groups was over 80% at 6 months. The remission rate was steady at over 80% after 12 and 24 months in the long-term group, but only 50 and 45%, respectively, in the short-term group. Nine patients (45%) relapsed in the short-term group after tacrolimus withdrawal, while not a single patient suffered recurrence in the long-term group. The concentration of tacrolimus remained similar between the two groups at 5-8 ng/ml during the initial 6 months, and was significantly decreased at 12 months compared to 6 months (p < 0.05), along with reduction of oral administration in the long-term group.
Conclusion: Combined therapy of tacrolimus with prednisone can relieve IMN significantly; prolonged tacrolimus treatment at a low blood concentration can alleviate the illness persistently, with a low recurrence rate and gratifying safety.
Copyright © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.