Background/Aim: Idiopathic membranous nephropathy, the most common cause of nephrotic syndrome in adults, has been traditionally treated with corticosteroids and cytotoxic drugs. Ciclosporin A (CsA) is used in resistant cases, but also as a first-line treatment, due to the serious side effects of cytotoxic drugs. In this study, the remission rates of nephrotic syndrome and the incidence of side effects of corticosteroids and low CsA doses are compared with those after treatment with cytotoxic drugs. Methods: Seventy-seven nephrotic patients with well-preserved renal function who were treated with methylprednisolone and CsA (n = 46) or cytotoxic drugs (n = 31) were studied. The effects of treatments were estimated on the basis of remission rates of nephrotic syndrome and preservation of the renal function. Results: Remission (complete or partial) of nephrotic syndrome was observed in 85% of the patients treated with CsA and in 55% of the patients treated with cytotoxic drugs (p < 0.01). Deterioration of the renal function, more common in patients with multiple relapses and interstitial fibrosis, was observed in 26 and 23% of the patients, respectively (p = NS). Serious side effects and discontinuation of treatment were more frequent in patients treated with cytotoxic drugs (10 vs. 4%). Conclusion: The combination of corticosteroids with CsA represents a better regimen for patients having idiopathic membranous nephropathy, since it is associated with higher remission rates of nephrotic syndrome and less severe side effects than corticosteroids and cytotoxic drugs.

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