PURPOSE AND DESIGN OF STUDY: In this retrospective analysis the effects of combined treatment with steroid pulses, cyclophosphamide and plasma exchange on six crescentic IgA glomerulonephritis (IgAGN) patients, selected on a histological basis, were examined. The histological criteria included involvement of more than 40% of glomeruli by cellular crescents. The effects of this treatment were compared to those observed in three untreated crescentic IgAGN patients and 12 treated patients who had extracapillary glomerulonephritis of different origins, i.e. ANCA-associated systemic or renal-limited vasculitis. All patients, except the three crescentic untreated IgAGN patients, received the same 2-month treatment according to a standardized protocol: steroid boli 15 mg/kg methylprednisolone for 3 consecutive days by intravenous infusion, followed by prednisone per os (1 mg/kg/day for 4 weeks, 0.75 mg/kg/day for 4 more weeks), cyclophosphamide per os 2.5 mg/kg/day for 8 weeks, and plasma exchange.
Results: After this 2-month course of therapy, substantial clinical improvement was observed in both IgAGN and vasculitis patients. However, a second biopsy revealed that florid crescents persisted in IgAGN patients and, unlike the vasculitis group, during the long-term the initial clinical amelioration disappeared in one-half of the treated IgAGN cases. Nevertheless, even in the progressive cases, intensive treatment seemed to substantially delay the onset of dialysis.
Conclusions: Despite some clinical benefits of therapy, short-term reversal of active crescents appears less likely to occur in crescentic IgAGN than in vasculitis-associated crescentic GN. Intensive treatment seems sufficient to arrest, but inadequate to reverse, phlogistic lesions in IgAGN before development of chronic changes.