Elective Cyclosporine Withdrawal 1 Year After Renal Transplantation

Karen L. Heim-Duthoy, Kerri K. Chitwood, Kathryn L. Tortorice, Ziad A. Massy, Bertram L. Kasiske

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49 Scopus citations


Whether the risks of acute rejection after elective cyclosporine (CsA) withdrawal in renal transplantation outweigh the potential benefits is unclear. We examined results for 236 patients who underwent transplantation between January 1986 and June 1991. Patients were treated with prophylactic CsA, prednisone, and azathioprine, and had grafts that functioned at least 1 year. We elected to withdraw CsA after 1 year in 192 patients who were rejection free for 12 months. Thirty-four patients elected to continue CsA. In 1988 a protocol that tapered CsA over 6 weeks was abandoned when eight (29.6%) of the first 27 patients developed acute rejection within 6 months. We then adopted a 12-week CsA taper preceded by 1 month of increased azathioprine (2.5 mg/d as tolerated) and followed by increased prednisone (30 mg/d for 1 week, 20 mg/d for 1 week, 15 mg/day for 6 months, then 15 mg/d on alternate days). With this protocol the incidence of postwithdrawal acute rejection within 6 months was reduced to 9.1 % among 165 patients (P < 0.01 v 6-week taper). Actuarial 5-year graft survival (patients living with a functioning graft) was 81.7% for patients left on CsA, 88.9% for patients tapered over 6 weeks, and 81.5% for patients tapered over 12 weeks (P > 0.05). We also examined risk factors for acute rejection after CsA withdrawal using a Cox proportional hazards model and found that the relative risk of acute rejection within 6 months of taper was approximately two times greater for each DR mismatch (P < 0.001). We conclude that CsA withdrawal has not affected renal allograft survival at our center. Moreover, the risk of acute rejection following CsA withdrawal was proportional to the number of DR mismatches, suggesting that an emphasis on major histocompatibility complex matching may reduce the need for long-term CsA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)846-853
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Kidney Diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1994

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
From The Drug Evaluation Unit. Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN; and College of Pharmacy and School of Medicine, University of Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN. Received January 25, 1994; accepted in revised form July 8, 1994. Address reprint requests to Karen L. Heim-Duthoy, PharmD, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation, 914 S Eighth St, Minneapolis. MN 55404-1249. © 1994 by the National Kidney Foundation. Inc. 0272-6386/9412405-0014$3.00/0


  • Cyclosporine
  • renal transplantation
  • withdrawal


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