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Efficacy and Safety of Tacrolimus in the Treatment of Pediatric Henoch-Schönlein Purpura Nephritis.

BACKGROUND: Children with severe Henoch-Schönlein purpura nephritis (HSPN) may progress to end-stage renal disease without appropriate treatment.

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to investigate the efficacy and safety of tacrolimus combined with glucocorticoids in the treatment of pediatric HSPN.

METHODS: A total of 87 HSPN patients with urinary protein ≥ 0.75 g/24 h received standard of care, including angiotensin II receptor blockers/angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and glucocorticoids. Patients were divided into three groups and additionally received tacrolimus (n = 30), cyclophosphamide (n = 31), or mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) (n = 26). We monitored outcome measures, including proteinuria, hematuria, and renal function and analyzed the efficacy and side effects in each group.

RESULTS: At 2-month follow-up, the overall efficacy was 93.3%, 83.9%, and 61.5% for tacrolimus, cyclophosphamide, and MMF, respectively (P < 0.05). Urinary protein significantly decreased for all groups. Urinary red blood cell counts significantly decreased for patients treated with tacrolimus (P < 0.001) and cyclophosphamide (P < 0.05), whereas no significant decrease was seen for those receiving MMF (P = 0.09). Although urine β2-microglobulin significantly decreased following 2 months of treatment with all medications, efficacy was greater with tacrolimus than with cyclophosphamide and MMF (P < 0.001). Major adverse events were respiratory and urinary infections, with MMF having the highest infection rate. The cyclophosphamide group also experienced additional adverse events, including arrhythmia, hemorrhagic cystitis, leukocytosis, thrombocytopenia, and hyperglycemia.

CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that tacrolimus is more effective at reducing proteinuria and hematuria and improving renal function, with relatively milder side effects, in the treatment of pediatric HSPN.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ChiCTR2200055323, retrospectively registered on January 7, 2022.

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