Treatment of Wegener’s granulomatosis
AbstractTreatment of Wegener’s granulomatosis, often a life-threatening disease, has greatly improved, considering that before corticosteroids and immunosuppressives were available, the average survival time of patients amounted to no more than 5 months. The management of Wegener’s granulomatosis can be divided in two stages: induction of remission and maintenance of remission. The standard regimen for the induction of remission consists of cyclophosphamide, 2 mg/kg/day orally, in combination with prednisone, 1mg/Kg/day orally, with a gradual tapering once remission has been obtained. To lower the overall cumulative dose, monthly intravenous pulses of cyclophosphamide have been evaluated. Other alternative treatments as high doses of corticosteroids, methotrexate, or plasmapheresis have been proposed, together as prophylaxis with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. To minimize toxicity, for maintenance therapy other drugs are also used such as methotrexate, azathioprine, cyclosporine. Frequent therapeutic changes are needed due to the great variability of the disease; while important aspects are the recognition and treatment of relapse, and include not only the management of resistant disease, but also some particular aspects such as disease in chronic dialysis, renal transplant, pregnancy. Other cytotoxic drugs like leflunomide or mycofenolic mofetil appear to be promising, while new efforts to identify more effective and less toxic therapies include biologic products, such as high-dose immunoglobulin, TNF antagonists and other monoclonal antibodies. Many different kind of clinical trials are going on to better evaluate the real efficacy and safety of these treatments in Wegener’s granulomatosis.
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