Aim: Membranous lupus glomerulonephritis (MLN) is associated with morbidities such as thromboembolism, peripheral edema and/or hyperlipidemia. However, treatment of MLN remains elusive. Methods: We performed systematic searches on MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane Library database up to November, 2017. Eligible studies included randomized trials or cohort studies which evaluated different immunosuppressants in adult patients with pathologically proved MLN. No language restrictions were applied. Endpoints included complete remission (CR) as the primary outcome, and CR plus partial remission (PR) and proteinuria-reducing effect as secondary outcomes. Frequentist estimation of a network meta-analysis (NMA) random-effect model was performed. Results: Eight studies (206 patients) were included with a total of six immunosuppressants as an induction therapy for MLN. NMA results showed that both mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) and calcineurin inhibitors (CNI) are effective in the induction of CR and CR plus PR when compared with corticosteroids (CS) alone, but MMF and CNI are also associated with higher infection rates when compared with CS. Conclusion: Our NMA demonstrated that both MMF and CNI are more effective than CS for induction therapy in MLN patients. However, there are limitations due to intra- and inter-study variability.
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