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Elizabeth Savage

Lower-than-Standard Dose of Prednisone

Lower-than-Standard Dose of Prednisone Found to be Just as Effective with Fewer Side Effects

A small study in Spain is raising hopes that Lupus Nephritis patients can be treated with a dosage of the corticosteroid Prednisone that is less than half the current standard and still be just as effective with few or no side effects.

Although Prednisone is a key drug in the treatment of lupus, the steroid often causes severe side effects from bone loss to cardiovascular disease. The Lupus Research Institute reports:

LN is typically treated with a combination of immunosuppressants and high-dose prednisone (50-60 mg a day). But the cost of remission over time at that dose is often bone loss, osteonecrosis, cataracts, and cardiovascular disease.

However, researchers at the BioCruces Health Research Institute in Spain report that half or even less than half that amount of prednisone produced complete or partial remission in a majority of patients in as quickly as six months, with few or no side effects.

The new regimen, which they call the "Cruces Protocol," consists of starting doses of 15-30 mg/day given with pulses of methyl-prednisolone, hydroxychloroquine, and cyclophosphamide, rapidly tapering the prednisone to a maintenance dose of 2.5-5 mg/day within 16 weeks, and maintaining azathioprine and/or mycophenolate mofetil for up to two years.

You may read more about the study here. While this study is a bright ray of hope, LFSC would like to remind readers that we provide these updates for information purposes only. If you would like to seek a change to your prescription regimen or dosage, please consult your rheumatologist or treating physician.