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10.07.2020 | Review

Calcineurin inhibitors in nephrotic syndrome secondary to podocyte gene mutations: a systematic review

Pediatric Nephrology
Georgia Malakasioti, Daniela Iancu, Kjell Tullus
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Calcineurin inhibitor (CNI) use in genetic steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS) is controversial as response rate is reported to be lower than non-genetic disease and no plausible mechanism of action is known.


We reviewed PubMed for publications on CNI use in hereditary SRNS to determine (1) CNI response rate; (2) impact of response on renal outcome; and (3) clinical and molecular predictors of response. Variant pathogenicity was assessed according to American College of Medical Genetics criteria and patients were assigned to 1 of 4 categories based on estimated genotype contribution to phenotype. Cases with non-existing phenotype-to-genotype contribution were excluded. Subgroup analysis was performed for the possible and confirmed genetic cases.


Data of 178 genetic SRNS cases from 22 studies were analyzed; 35% responded (fully or partially) to CNI with minimal change being the commonest biopsy pattern among responders. Full responders had superior kidney survival compared with partial and non-responders (log-rank test χ2 = 10.7; P < 0.01). WT1 variant carriers were most likely to respond to CNI compared with any other mutation [OR 4.7 (2.0–11.3); P < 0.01].


These findings support the current recommendation for using CNI as first-line treatment for children with SRNS whilst genetic analyses are pending. This would allow assessment of treatment response even in cases later established as genetic ensuring that benefits on kidney function are balanced with treatment toxicity.

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