Maximum tolerable dose of Cyclophosphamide and Azathioprine in Pakistani Patients with Primary Renal Disease

S. S. Ali, M. A. Rabbani, S. S.M. Moinuddin, S. Virani, F. Farooque, A. Salam, A. Ahmad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The immunosuppressive regimens, at present, mainly rely on western guidelines that were derived from studies conducted in western populations. No such study exists for South Asian population, which is home to almost two billion people different in both genetics and environment from west. Locally derived thresholds for side effects markedly different from western figures may warrant re-adjustment of current local immunosuppressive regimens that are at present based largely on western guidelines. In order to define optimum dose for Cyclophosphamide (CYC) and Azathioprine (AZA) based immunosuppressive therapy, we conducted this study to find out maximum tolerable doses of azathioprine (AZA) and cyclophosphamide (CYC) beyond which neutropenia and thrombocytepenia are most likely to occur in patients with primary renal pathology. Method: Patients with systemic vasculitis and idiopathic glomerulonephritis who were on CYC and AZA were identified through review of medical records at a tertiary care hospital in Pakistan (The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi). Patients were categorized under three principal diagnosis i.e. systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), primary (idiopathic) glomerulonephritis (GN) and Wegener's granulomatosis (WG). The Receiver Operating Curve (ROC) was used to calculate the maximum tolerable dose for both CYC and AZA. Results: We identified 94 patients aged 6-82 years (median 44.5 years) with primary renal disease (Wegener's granulomatosis n=13, Systemic lupus erythematosis n=62 and idiopathic glomerulonephritis n=19) who received CYC or AZA. Of these 94 patients, 36.2% (n=34) received CYC and 63.8% (n=60) received AZA. The mean dose of CYC was 1.54 ± 0.50 mg/kg of body weight (range: 0.77-2.93). The mean dose of AZA was 1.64 ±0.59 mg/kg of body weight (range: 0.47-2.97). The maximum tolerable doses calculated for CYC and AZA were 1.25 mg/kg and 1.30 mg/kg of body weight respectively. The maximum tolerable dose for CYC and AZA among males could not be calculated, because of insufficient number of patients who developed neutropenia and thrombocytopenia. The maximum tolerable doses for CYC and AZA among females were 1.34 mg/kg and 1.03 mg/kg of body weight respectively. Also we found out that AZA was relatively more likely to cause neutropenia and thrombocytopenia (p = 0.07). Conclusion: We thereby recommend that CYC should be initiated at a dose no more than 1 mg/kg of body weight and AZA at an initial dose of 0.75-1.0 mg/kg of body weight. The dose may be adjusted later on the basis of clinical response and laboratory reports.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-42
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the Pakistan Medical Association
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004


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