The use of anticoagulation in patients with comorbid lupus nephritis and thrombotic microangiopathy was linked with a greater rate of clinical response after 12 months of therapy, according to results from a study published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

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“The purpose of this multicenter retrospective study was to analyze the impact of anticoagulation (vitamin K antagonists and/or heparins), in addition to conventional immunosuppression on kidney outcomes, according to the Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes guidelines,” wrote first author Savino Sciascia, MD, PhD, of the University of Turin (Italy), along with his colleagues.

The researchers analyzed data from 97 patients with biopsy-confirmed lupus nephritis (LN) and thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) who were diagnosed during 2007-2017. The entire cohort was administered standard immunosuppressive agents, including corticosteroids, cyclophosphamide, and mycophenolate, among others. After 12 months of therapy, the patients were assessed for degree of clinical response, measured using complete, partial, or no response to therapy.

“Sixty-one patients (62.9%) were [antiphospholipid antibody] positive and 37 (38.1%) of these patients received anticoagulation with a vitamin K antagonist and/or heparins,” the investigators wrote. “Mean duration of anticoagulation therapy after TMA and LN diagnosis was 7.7 months,” they added.


After statistical analysis, the researchers found that patients treated with anticoagulation therapy experienced a greater rate of clinical response, compared with those not treated. The investigators saw a complete response to therapy in 22 (59.5%) patients given anticoagulation, compared with 15 (25.0%) patients without anticoagulation. Partial treatment responses were comparable, occurring in 7 (18.9%) with anticoagulation and 15 (25.0%) without. Without anticoagulation, 30 (50%) had no response to therapy, compared with 8 (21.6%) patients given anticoagulation.

“When limiting the analysis to patients with antiphospholipid antibodies, we observed a rate of any response (either complete response [or] partial response) as high as 66% in patients receiving anticoagulant treatment compared with those receiving immunosuppression alone (34%),” they added.

The authors acknowledged a major limitation of the study was the short duration of follow-up, which limited the ability to evaluate relapse rate.

“Despite its limitations, this study represents the largest available multicenter cohort of real-life systemic lupus erythematosus patients,” said Dr. Sciascia and his colleagues. “The use of anticoagulation appeared protective and warrants further investigation as a therapeutic tool,” they concluded.

The authors reported no conflicts of interest, and no specific study funding was declared.

SOURCE: Sciascia S et al. Ann Rheum Dis. 2018 Dec 14. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2018-214559.