Guidelines recommend steroid plus cyclical cyclophosphamide (ST-CP) therapy for patients with idiopathic membranous nephropathy at high risk of progression to ESRD. Rituximab (RTX) may be a safer alternative. In this retrospective, observational cohort study, we compared time to any adverse event (primary outcome); serious or nonserious events; partial and complete remission of the nephrotic syndrome; and a composite of doubling of serumcreatinine, ESRD, or death between 100 RTX-treated patients and 103 patients who received daily ST-CP.We monitoredpatientswith standardizedprotocolsandadjustedforbaseline characteristicsbyCoxregression.Over a median follow-up of 40 months, the RTX group had significantly fewer adverse events than the ST-CP group (63 versus 173; P,0.001), both serious (11 versus 46; P,0.001) and nonserious (52 versus 127; P,0.001). Cumulative incidence of any first (35.5% versus 69.0%; P,0.001), serious (16.4% versus 30.2%; P=0.002), or nonserious (23.6% versus 60.8%; P,0.001) event was significantly lower with RTX. Adjusted hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) between RTX and ST-CP groups were 0.27 (0.16 to 0.44) for any first adverse event, 0.32 (0.15 to 0.68) for serious adverse events, and 0.23 (0.13 to 0.41) for nonserious adverse events.Although the cumulative incidence of partial remission was lower in the RTX group, rates of complete remission and the composite renal end point did not differ significantly between groups.Because of its superior safety profile,we suggest thatRTX might replace ST-CP asfirstline immunosuppressive therapy in patients with idiopathic membranous nephropathy and nephrotic syndrome.
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