Efficacy of leflunomide in the treatment of vasculitis

the Canadian Vasculitis Research Network (CanVasc), Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium (VCRC)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. Only a few small case series, case reports, and one small clinical trial suggested some benefit of leflunomide (LEF) in anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis and other vasculitides. We analysed the clinical efficacy and tolerability of LEF in a large cohort of patients with various vasculitides. Methods. This was a retrospective analysis of patients who received LEF for treatment of their vasculitis enrolled in the Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium (VCRC) Longitudinal Study and in 3 additional centres from the Canadian vasculitis research network (CanVasc). Results. Data for 93 patients were analysed: 45 had granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA), 8 microscopic polyangiitis (MPA), 12 eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA), 14 giant-cell arteritis (GCA), 9 Takayasu’s arteritis (TAK), and 5 polyarteritis nodosa (PAN). The main reason for initiation of LEF was active disease (89%). LEF was efficacious for remission induction or maintenance at 6 months for 62 (67%) patients (64% with GCA, 89% with TAK, 80% with PAN, 69% with GPA, 75% with MPA, 33% with EGPA); 20% discontinued LEF before achieving remission because of persistent disease activity. Overall, 22 adverse events (gastrointestinal symptoms being the most common) led to drug discontinuation in 18 (19%) patients, of which 12 stopped LEF before month 6, before showing any benefit in 8/12 of these patients. Conclusion. Leflunomide can be an effective therapeutic option for various vasculitides, especially for non-severe refractory or relapsing ANCA-associated vasculitis or large-vessel vasculitis. No new safety signals for LEF were identified in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S114-S118
JournalClinical and experimental rheumatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • ANCA
  • Efficacy
  • Leflunomide
  • Safety
  • Vasculitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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