Background: The introduction of combination therapy with glucocorticoids (GC) and cyclophosphamide (CYC) or rituximab (RTX) has resulted in remission rates exceeding 90% in patients with antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis (AAV). However, early treatment-related mortality remains a major concern and has driven the search for safer induction regimens exploring minimization or avoidance of GC and CYC. Most trials have excluded patients with severe renal disease. We report the outcomes of AAV patients with severe renal disease treated with sequential therapy (ST) starting with (GC) and oral (CYC) followed by transition to (RTX). Methods: Patients with new or relapsing severe AAV who presented with severe renal disease and/or rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis (RPGN) were identified. RPGN was defined as at least a 20% decrease in estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) over a 2-week period along with hematuria and proteinuria. Induction treatment included pulse (GC) for 3 days followed by oral prednisone tapered to 5 mg by month 6, oral (CYC) adjusted for GFR until improvement in Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score (BVAS), and serum creatinine at which point (CYC) was stopped and induction dose of (RTX) was given. Use of plasmapheresis (PLEX) was allowed. The primary outcome was complete remission defined as BVAS of zero by 6 months. Descriptive data are presented as median with range and mean with SD. Results: Nine patients met the inclusion criteria. Median age at diagnosis was 63 years. The majority were females, myeloperoxidase ANCA positive, and had a new diagnosis. The mean nadir (SD) eGFR was 12 (5) with 3 requiring dialysis. The median BVAS at the time of diagnosis was 15. All patients received ST and 3 received PLEX. The median exposure to oral CYC was 35 days. The mean (SD) eGFR and median BVAS were 26 (12) and 3, respectively, at the time of switching to RTX. The median prednisone dose at 6M was 5 mg. The median follow-up was 44 months. All patients achieved remission. One patient with relapsing disease reached ESRD. The mean (SD) eGFR in the remaining 8 patients at last FU was 37 (27), and the mean (SD) eGFR rise at 1 year was 26 (25). Adverse events included 2 patients with pneumonia and 3 with bone marrow suppression. There were no deaths. Conclusion: ST with GC and CYC followed by RTX is effective for in AAV patients with severe renal disease. Therapy-related adverse events are comparable to other studies, and further modification in ST with decrease in GC dosage should be explored.
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