Background: The aim of the present study was to evaluate the efficacy of mycophenolate mofetil in the induction therapy of proliferative lupus nephritis.
Methods: Forty-four patients from eight centres with newly diagnosed lupus nephritis World Health Organization class III or IV were randomly assigned to either mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) 2 g/day for 6 months or intravenous cyclophosphamide (IVC) 0.75–1 g/m2 monthly for 6 months in addition to corticosteroids.
Results: Remission occurred in 13 out of 25 patients (52%) in the IVC group and 11 out of 19 patients (58%) in the MMF group (P = 0.70). There were 12% in the IVC group and 26% in the MMF group that achieved complete remission (P = 0.22). Improvements in haemoglobin, the erythrocyte sedimentation rate, serum albumin, serum complement, proteinuria, urinary activity, renal function and the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index score were similar in both groups. Twenty-four follow-up renal biopsies at the end of therapy showed a significant reduction in the activity score in both groups. The chronicity index increased in both groups but was only significant in the IVC group. Adverse events were similar. Major infections occurred in three patients in each group. There was no difference in gastrointestinal side-effects.
Conclusions: MMF in combination with corticosteroids is an effective induction therapy for moderately severe proliferative lupus nephritis.