Background and aims The management of lupus nephritis (LN) has evolved over time. There is limited data on renal flares in the recent era.
Methods We investigated the renal relapse rate in 139 patients with a history of Class III/IV±V diagnosed during the period of Jan 1983 to Dec 2013, and the factors associated with renal flares.
Results 135 episodes of renal relapse occurred over 112.5±88.4 months, giving a flare rate of 0.108 episode per patient-year. Reduced risk of renal flare was associated with maintenance treatment using mycophenolate (MPA) (OR 0.314, 95% CI 0.099–0.994, p=0.049), complete remission after the prior episode of active LN (OR 0.329, 95% CI 0.133–0.810, p=0.016), and diagnosis of LN after 1998 (OR 0.305, 95% CI 0.133–0.700, p=0.005) when maintenance therapy with MPA was instituted. Low-dose prednisolone and MPA maintenance immunosuppression was associated with better relapse-free survival (5 year 91% and 10 year 83%) than prednisolone and azathioprine (AZA) (70% and 52% respectively, p=0.044) (Figure 1). LN diagnosed in 1998–2013 was associated with 5 year and 10 year relapse-free survival rates of 93% and 86% respectively, compared with 81% and 66% respectively (p=0.017) for patients who presented in 1983–1997 (Figure 2).
Conclusions The risk of renal relapse has decreased in the current era, probably attributed to replacement of AZA with MPA as maintenance treatment.
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