Extending steroid treatment does not benefit children with hard-to-treat kidney disease

December 20, 2012

HighlightsWashington, DC (December 20, 2012) -- Extending steroid treatment for the most common form of kidney disease in children provides no benefit for preventing relapses or side effects, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). The findings challenge previous assumptions about optimal treatment strategies for this disease.

Nephrotic syndrome is the most common kidney disease in childhood. Children with the disease are at risk of developing severe infections and other complications because their kidneys leak important proteins from the blood into the urine. Their bodies also retain water, which results in general discomfort and abdominal pain. Steroids such as prednisolone induce remission in 90-95% of patients; however relapses occur in 60-90% of initial responders. Prolonged prednisolone treatment for initial episodes of childhood nephrotic syndrome may reduce the relapse rate (despite potentially causing serious side effects), but whether this results from an increased duration of treatment or from a higher cumulative dose remains unclear.

To investigate, Nynke Teeninga, MD (Erasmus University Medical Centre at Sophia Children's Hospital, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands) and her colleagues conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 69 hospitals in the Netherlands. They assigned 150 children (nine months to 17 years old) with nephrotic syndrome to either three months of prednisolone followed by three months of placebo or to six months of prednisolone. Patients were followed for an average of 47 months. Both groups received equal cumulative doses of prednisolone (approximately 3360 mg/m2)."In contrast to what was previously assumed but unproven, we found no beneficial effect of prolonged prednisolone treatment on the occurrence of relapses. We believe our work offers an important contribution towards more evidence-based treatment of childhood nephrotic syndrome," said Dr. Teeninga. Previous findings indicating that prolonged treatment regimens reduce relapses most likely resulted from increased cumulative dose rather than the treatment duration.

Dr. Teeninga added that because many children with nephrotic syndrome face frequent relapses, future research should focus on preventing relapses through new treatment strategies.
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Study co-authors include Joana Kist-van Holthe, MD, PhD, Nienske van Rijswijk, MD, Nienke de Mos, MD, Wim Hop, MSc, PhD, Jack Wetzels, MD, PhD, Albert van der Heijden, MD, PhD, Jeroen Nauta, MD, PhD.

Disclosures: The authors reported no financial disclosures.

The article, entitled "Extending Prednisolone Treatment Does Not Reduce Relapses in Childhood Nephrotic Syndrome," will appear online at http://jasn.asnjournals.org/ on December 20, 2012, doi: 10.1681/2012070646.

The content of this article does not reflect the views or opinions of The American Society of Nephrology (ASN). Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the author(s). ASN does not offer medical advice. All content in ASN publications is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions, or adverse effects. This content should not be used during a medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Please consult your doctor or other qualified health care provider if you have any questions about a medical condition, or before taking any drug, changing your diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment. Do not ignore or delay obtaining professional medical advice because of information accessed through ASN. Call 911 or your doctor for all medical emergencies.Founded in 1966, and with more than 13,500 members, the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) leads the fight against kidney disease by educating health professionals, sharing new knowledge, advancing research, and advocating the highest quality care for patients.

American Society of Nephrology

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