BACKGROUND: Primary membranous nephropathy is associated with variable clinical course ranging from spontaneous remission to slow progression to end stage renal failure. Achieving remission confers better renal survival in primary membranous nephropathy (PMN). Longer term outcomes such as patient survival and relapse of active disease remain poorly understood.
METHODS: We performed a retrospective study of 128 consecutive adult patients diagnosed with biopsy proven PMN at a single UK centre between 1980 and 2010. These patients were followed prospectively over a median of 128 months. We assessed impact of persistent disease and relapse on Stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD-5) and patient survival and present longer term cumulative incidences of different end points.
RESULTS: One hundred patients achieved partial remission (PartRem) and 28 patients did not achieve remission (NoRem). Nine per cent of patients achieving first remission developed CKD-5 and 75% of those with NoRem developed CKD-5 [hazard ratio (HR) 0.07, 95% confidence interval 0.03-0.19). Relapse following PartRem occurred in 31 patients (31%) during follow-up and was significantly associated with progression to CKD-5. Progression to CKD-5 was strongly associated with death (47 versus 6%, HR 23.4; P < 0.01). Cumulative incidence at 15 years following first presentation included: death, 14%; CKD-5, 28%; and relapse 40% (in patients who achieved first remission).
CONCLUSIONS: Our data strongly suggest that mortality in PMN is seen in patients with disease progression to CKD-5. Achieving remission is strongly associated with improved renal survival after first presentation and following relapse. We suggest that patients who achieve remission should be followed up in longer term, and better strategies to help improve outcomes are needed in clinical practice.