Mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), along with corticosteroids, is considered as the standard of care in lupus nephritis (LN); however, little is known regarding its efficacy in extrarenal manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We aimed to determine its effectiveness in nonrenal SLE.
One hundred seventy-seven patients with SLE were enrolled; 105 for whom MMF was introduced for active LN (mean age 35.6 ± 10.7 yrs, mean disease duration 8.9 ± 7.8 yrs) and 72 for extrarenal manifestations (mean age 38.6 ± 11.7 yrs, mean disease duration 11.7 ± 9.2 yrs). The main indication for MMF initiation was based on the respective SLE Disease Activity Index element that was present at that time. Patients were subdivided according to the major nonrenal manifestation. Improvement was defined as the absence of the initial clinical or laboratory manifestation after 6 and 12 months.
Cumulatively, the initial clinical manifestation or hematological abnormality was resolved in 42/72 nonrenal patients (58.3%) after 6 months and in 45/72 (62.5%) after 12 months. Corticosteroid dose was reduced in 44/72 patients (61.1%, p < 0.001, mean dose 18.4 ± 12.6 mg/day at baseline to 12.1 ± 9.0 mg/day after 12 mos, p < 0.05). In renal patients, 40 (38.1%) had complete resolution of the extrarenal manifestation after 6 months, while 53 (50.5%) achieved complete response after 12 months. Prednisone dose was reduced in 73/105 patients (69.5%) after 12 months (mean dose 29.2 ± 16.6 mg/day at baseline to 15.3 ± 9.7 mg/day, p < 0.001).
MMF seems to be an efficacious alternative in refractory to standard of care nonrenal manifestations of SLE in the long term, allowing for disease activity control and significant reduction in corticosteroid dose.