We investigated the efficacy and safety of cyclosporine A (CsA; targeted serum trough level: 80-150 ng/ml) in a daily clinical practice for treating patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), who had been, or were expected to be, refractory to glucocorticoids (GCs) and other immunosuppressants. Fifty-nine patients with SLE receiving CsA were observed for at least 6 months (21.5 months on average). A significant reduction of proteinuria was noted 2 weeks after initiation of treatment in patients with nephritis, resulting in a clinical response in five of eight patients in the GC dose-up group and 11 of 18 patients in the stable GC dose group, respectively. Notably, the mean score for disease activity on the SLE Disease Activity Index decreased significantly from 8.6 ± 5.3 to 4.4 ± 2.5 after CsA treatment in patients in the stable GC dose group (n = 40). Moreover, the mean flare rate decreased by approximately 60% with CsA. Side effects of CsA appeared in 32.2% of patients and all of them subsided through dose reduction or discontinuation (n=8) of CsA. Consequently, the cumulative 2-year survival rate of CsA was 75%. The results suggest that CsA should be considered for patients with SLE refractory to GCs. Lupus (2010) 19, 162-169.
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