Management of lupus nephritis: a systematic literature review informing the 2019 update of the joint EULAR and European Renal Association-European Dialysis and Transplant Association (EULAR/ERA-EDTA) recommendations

Myrto Kostopoulou, Antonis Fanouriakis, Kim Cheema, John Boletis, George Bertsias, David Jayne, Dimitrios T Boumpas
RMD Open 2020, 6 (2)

OBJECTIVES: To analyse the current evidence for the management of lupus nephritis (LN) informing the 2019 update of the EULAR/European Renal Association-European Dialysis and Transplant Association recommendations.

METHODS: According to the EULAR standardised operating procedures, a PubMed systematic literature review was performed, from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2018. Since this was an update of the 2012 recommendations, the final level of evidence (LoE) and grading of recommendations considered the total body of evidence, including literature prior to 2012.

RESULTS: We identified 387 relevant articles. High-quality randomised evidence supports the use of immunosuppressive treatment for class III and class IV LN (LoE 1a), and moderate-level evidence supports the use of immunosuppressive treatment for pure class V LN with nephrotic-range proteinuria (LoE 2b). Treatment should aim for at least 25% reduction in proteinuria at 3 months, 50% at 6 months and complete renal response (<500-700 mg/day) at 12 months (LoE 2a-2b). High-quality evidence supports the use of mycophenolate mofetil/mycophenolic acid (MMF/MPA) or low-dose intravenous cyclophosphamide (CY) as initial treatment of active class III/IV LN (LoE 1a). Combination of tacrolimus with MMF/MPA and high-dose CY are alternatives in specific circumstances (LoE 1a). There is low-quality level evidence to guide optimal duration of immunosuppression in LN (LoE 3). In end-stage kidney disease, all methods of kidney replacement treatment can be used, with transplantation having the most favourable outcomes (LoE 2b).

CONCLUSIONS: There is high-quality evidence to guide the initial and subsequent phases of class III/IV LN treatment, but low-to-moderate quality evidence to guide treatment of class V LN, monitoring and optimal duration of immunosuppression.

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