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Treatment of nephrotic syndrome with adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) gel

Authors Bomback, Tumlin J, Baranski J, Bourdeau J, Besarab A, Appel A, Radhakrishnan, Appel G

Published 14 March 2011 Volume 2011:5 Pages 147—153


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Andrew S Bomback1, James A Tumlin2, Joel Baranski3, James E Bourdeau4, Anatole Besarab5, Alice S Appel1, Jai Radhakrishnan1, Gerald B Appel1
1Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY, USA; 2Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Nephrology, University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN, USA; 3Balboa Nephrology Medical Group, San Diego, CA, USA; 4Nephrology Specialists of Oklahoma, Tulsa, OK, USA; 5Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI, USA

Purpose: A synthetic adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) analog has shown efficacy in Europe as primary and secondary therapy for nephrotic syndrome, but there is no published experience using the natural, highly purified ACTH gel formulation, available in the United States, for nephrotic syndrome. We therefore investigated the use of ACTH gel for nephrotic syndrome in the United States.
Patients and methods: Twenty-one patients with nephrotic syndrome treated with ACTH gel outside of research settings in the United States, with initiation of therapy by December 31, 2009, allowing a minimum 6 months follow-up. We defined complete remission as stable renal function with proteinuria falling to <500 mg/day, and partial remission as stable renal function with >50% reduction in proteinuria from 500 to 3500 mg/day.
Results: Twenty-one patients with nephrotic syndrome were treated: 11 with idiopathic membranous nephropathy (iMN), 4 with membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (MPGN), 1 with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), 1 with minimal change disease (MCD), 1 with immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy, 1 with class V systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) glomerulonephritis, 1 with monoclonal diffuse proliferative glomerulonephritis, and 1 with unbiopsied nephrotic syndrome. ACTH was used as primary therapy for 3 patients; the remaining patients had previously failed a mean 2.3 immunosuppressive regimens. Eleven patients achieved a complete or partial remission, with 4 (19%) in complete remission. Of the 11 patients who achieved remission, 9 had iMN, 1 had FSGS, and 1 had IgA nephropathy. Of the 11 patients with iMN, 3 (27%) achieved complete remission and 6 (55%) achieved partial remission despite having previously failed a mean 2.4 therapies. Five patients reported steroid-like adverse effects, but there were no severe infections. The limitations were retrospective data analysis with short-term follow-up.
Conclusion: ACTH gel may be a viable treatment option for resistant nephrotic syndrome due to membranous nephropathy. Short-term data suggest that remission rates may approach 80%.

Keywords: nephrotic syndrome, membranous nephropathy, chronic kidney disease

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