Beneficial effects of ACTH on the serum lipoprotein profile and glomerular function in patients with membranous nephropathy

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BACKGROUND: Previous studies have shown that short-term treatment with adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) has a strong and rapid lipid-lowering effect. In this long-term study of nephrotic patients with idiopathic membranous nephropathy, the influence of ACTH on the serum lipoprotein profile and glomerular function as well as the dose-effect relationship was investigated. METHODS: Fourteen patients received ACTH intramuscularly at increasing doses during 56 days. Serum concentrations of lipids, lipoproteins, and apolipoproteins as well as variables of glomerular function were analyzed, and the side-effects were recorded. ACTH treatment, in the estimated optimal dosage, was then continued in five patients with severe steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome. In these five patients, the total treatment period was 12 months, and the follow-up time after discontinuing treatment was 18 months. RESULTS: Taking both the statistically significant therapeutic effects and the modest side-effects into consideration, the optimal dosage of ACTH was estimated to be 1 mg twice per week. At that dose, reductions by 30 to 60% in the serum concentrations of cholesterol, triglycerides, apolipoprotein B, and lipoprotein(a) were observed, whereas the serum concentrations of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein AI rose by 30 to 40%. In addition, the urinary albumin excretion decreased by 90%, and the glomerular filtration rate increased by 25%. Deterioration was observed in all cases when ACTH was discontinued after a treatment duration of 56 days. However, the five patients in whom ACTH therapy was resumed were still in remission 18 months after discontinuance of treatment. CONCLUSIONS: In nephrotic patients with idiopathic membranous nephropathy, treatment with ACTH 1 mg twice per week was associated with significant long-term improvements in serum lipoprotein pattern and glomerular function.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Urology and Nephrology


  • adrenocorticotrophic hormone, glomerular filtration rate, lipoprotein(a), nephrotic syndrome, hyperlipoproteinemia
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1534-1543
JournalKidney International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Publication categoryResearch