Clinical Research Papers:

Comparison of combined leflunomide and low-dose corticosteroid therapy with full-dose corticosteroid monotherapy for progressive IgA nephropathy

Lulin Min, Qin Wang, Liou Cao, Wenyan Zhou, Jiangzi Yuan, Minfang Zhang, Xiajing Che, Shan Mou, Wei Fang, Leyi Gu, Mingli Zhu, Ling Wang, Zanzhe Yu, Jiaqi Qian and Zhaohui Ni _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:48375-48384. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.16468

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Lulin Min1, Qin Wang1, Liou Cao1, Wenyan Zhou1, Jiangzi Yuan1, Minfang Zhang1, Xiajing Che1, Shan Mou1, Wei Fang1, Leyi Gu1, Mingli Zhu1, Ling Wang1, Zanzhe Yu1, Jiaqi Qian1 and Zhaohui Ni1

1 Department of Nephrology, Molecular Cell Lab for Kidney Disease, Ren Ji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China

Correspondence to:

Zhaohui Ni, email:

Keywords: IgA nephropathy, leflunomide, proteinuria, corticosteroids, renal survival

Received: January 28, 2017 Accepted: March 06, 2017 Published: March 22, 2017


IgA nephropathy is the most common primary glomerulonephritis and one of the leading causes of end-stage renal disease. We performed a randomized, controlled, prospective, open-label trial to determine whether leflunomide combined with low-dose corticosteroid is safe and effective for the treatment of progressive IgA nephropathy, as compared to full-dose corticosteroid monotherapy. Biopsy-proved primary IgA nephropathy patients with an estimated glomerular filtration rate ≥ 30 ml/min/1.73m2 and proteinuria ≥1.0 g/24h were randomly assigned to receive leflunomide+low-dose corticosteroid (leflunomide group; n = 40) or full-dose corticosteroid (corticosteroids group; n = 45). The primary outcome was renal survival; secondary outcomes were proteinuria and adverse events. After 12 months of treatment and an average follow-up of 88 months, 11.1% vs. 7.5% of patients reached end-stage renal disease and 20% versus 10% of patients had a ≥ 50% increase in serum creatinine in the corticosteroids and leflunomide groups, respectively. Kaplan-Meier analysis did not reveal a between-group difference in these outcomes. Decreases in 24-hour proteinuria were similar in the two groups during the treatment period, but a more marked reduction was observed during follow-up in the leflunomide group. Although the incidence of adverse events was similar in the two groups, serious adverse events were observed only in the corticosteroid group. Thus, leflunomide combined with low-dose corticosteroid is at least as effective as corticosteroid alone for the treatment of progressive IgA nephropathy, and showed a greater reduction of proteinuria during long-term follow-up and fewer severe adverse events.

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