Mycophenolate mofetil was recently accepted as the effective induction treatment of lupus nephritis, with the potential to replace cyclophosphamide or at least expand our therapeutic armamentarium in patients with this lifelong disease often requiring repeated induction treatment of its relapses. Compared with cyclophosphamide, mycophenolate may be more effective in black patients, and the risk of gonadotoxicity may be significantly lower in mycophenolate-treated subjects. However, experience with mycophenolate in severe lupus nephritis is still limited and we also have insufficient data on the long-term outcome of mycophenolate-treated patients. Treatment with mycophenolate is more expensive than with cyclophosphamide, which may limit its use, especially in low- and middle-income countries. The efficacy of mycophenolate mofetil may be more dependent on the patient's compliance compared with intravenous cyclophosphamide pulses. Low-dose cyclophosphamide remains an effective and relatively safe induction treatment of active lupus nephritis, but to decrease its cumulative toxicity, repeated exposure to cyclophosphamide in relapsing patients should be (if possible) avoided.
Keywords: cyclophosphamide; lupus nephritis; mycophenolate; treatment.
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