Membranous nephropathy (MN) is an immune-mediated glomerular disease that can lead to nephrotic syndrome and progressive kidney function loss. The cyclic steroid-cyclophosphamide regimen (the modified Ponticelli protocol) and the monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody rituximab have been advocated as effective therapies to improve renal outcomes, but a direct comparison of these treatments had never been carried out in a prospective study. Subject of Review: Scolari et al. [J Am Soc Nephrol. 2021;32:972-82] recently reported the results of a pilot randomized controlled trial (RI-CYCLO) designed to provide direct estimates of the effect of rituximab (1 g × 2) compared to the cyclic steroid-cyclophosphamide regimen in 74 patients with MN. The proportion of patients with complete remission at 12 months was higher in the cyclic regimen arm than that of rituximab (32 and 16%, respectively), but the difference was not statistically significant in intention-to-treat analyses. Interestingly, differences in the cumulative incidence of complete and partial remissions between treatment arms progressively reduced over the follow-up and became virtually nonexistent from 24 months (>80% in both groups). The frequency of serious and nonserious adverse events was similar between the 2 treatment arms. Infusion reactions and drug discontinuation were more common with rituximab, while infections and leukopenia were more frequently observed with the cyclic regimen. The risk of cancer was similar in the 2 allocation groups, but the limited follow-up length did not allow to draw definitive conclusions. Independent of treatment allocation, 18% of patients experienced at least 1 relapse after achieving complete or partial remission. Second Opinion: Notwithstanding the intrinsic limitations of a pilot study, the RI-CYCLO trial represents an important milestone in the treatment of MN. Findings from this study support the hypothesis that the cyclic regimen and rituximab may have comparable efficacy in inducing disease remission over the long term. Considering its potentially better-albeit not yet formally proven-long-term safety profile, rituximab could be considered as a first-line therapy for most patients with MN. Several questions remain to be addressed, including rituximab ideal dose and its efficacy in patients with a significant reduction in glomerular filtration rate. In light of RI-CYCLO results, a large-scale trial to assess rituximab noninferiority to the cyclic regimen would require the enrollment of thousands of patients, and it would be probably unfeasible within a reasonable time frame. In our opinion, resources should be allocated to provide an answer to the pressing matter of treatment nonresponse and intolerance, which may be addressed in the near future with novel therapeutic strategies.

Membranous nephropathy : it is time to go back to the future / G. Sabiu, M.A. Podestà. - In: NEPHRON JOURNALS. - ISSN 1660-8151. - (2021 Jul 05). [Epub ahead of print] [10.1159/000516984]

Membranous nephropathy : it is time to go back to the future

G. Sabiu;M.A. Podestà
2021-07-05

Abstract

Membranous nephropathy (MN) is an immune-mediated glomerular disease that can lead to nephrotic syndrome and progressive kidney function loss. The cyclic steroid-cyclophosphamide regimen (the modified Ponticelli protocol) and the monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody rituximab have been advocated as effective therapies to improve renal outcomes, but a direct comparison of these treatments had never been carried out in a prospective study. Subject of Review: Scolari et al. [J Am Soc Nephrol. 2021;32:972-82] recently reported the results of a pilot randomized controlled trial (RI-CYCLO) designed to provide direct estimates of the effect of rituximab (1 g × 2) compared to the cyclic steroid-cyclophosphamide regimen in 74 patients with MN. The proportion of patients with complete remission at 12 months was higher in the cyclic regimen arm than that of rituximab (32 and 16%, respectively), but the difference was not statistically significant in intention-to-treat analyses. Interestingly, differences in the cumulative incidence of complete and partial remissions between treatment arms progressively reduced over the follow-up and became virtually nonexistent from 24 months (>80% in both groups). The frequency of serious and nonserious adverse events was similar between the 2 treatment arms. Infusion reactions and drug discontinuation were more common with rituximab, while infections and leukopenia were more frequently observed with the cyclic regimen. The risk of cancer was similar in the 2 allocation groups, but the limited follow-up length did not allow to draw definitive conclusions. Independent of treatment allocation, 18% of patients experienced at least 1 relapse after achieving complete or partial remission. Second Opinion: Notwithstanding the intrinsic limitations of a pilot study, the RI-CYCLO trial represents an important milestone in the treatment of MN. Findings from this study support the hypothesis that the cyclic regimen and rituximab may have comparable efficacy in inducing disease remission over the long term. Considering its potentially better-albeit not yet formally proven-long-term safety profile, rituximab could be considered as a first-line therapy for most patients with MN. Several questions remain to be addressed, including rituximab ideal dose and its efficacy in patients with a significant reduction in glomerular filtration rate. In light of RI-CYCLO results, a large-scale trial to assess rituximab noninferiority to the cyclic regimen would require the enrollment of thousands of patients, and it would be probably unfeasible within a reasonable time frame. In our opinion, resources should be allocated to provide an answer to the pressing matter of treatment nonresponse and intolerance, which may be addressed in the near future with novel therapeutic strategies.
corticosteroids; cyclophosphamide; membranous nephropathy; rituximab; therapy
Settore MED/14 - Nefrologia
5-lug-2021
Article (author)
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/856960
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