Rapid Discontinuation of Steroids in Living Donor Kidney Transplantation: A Pilot Study

Arthur J. Matas, Thiagarajan Ramcharan, Steven Paraskevas, Kristen J. Gillingham, David L. Dunn, Rainer W G Gruessner, Abhinav Humar, Raja Kandaswamy, John S. Najarian, William D. Payne, David E R Sutherland

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Steroids are associated with significant postoperative complications (hypertension, cosmetic changes, bone loss, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and cataracts). Most develop early; in addition, late post-transplant steroid withdrawal in kidney transplant recipients has been associated with increased acute rejection (AR). To obviate these problems, we studied outcome of a protocol of rapid discontinuation of prednisone (RDS) (steroids stopped on POD6). Between November 1, 1999 and October 31, 2000, 51 adult living donor (LD) first transplant recipients (2 HLA-id, 28 non-id relative, 21 LURD) were immunosuppressed with thymoglobulin (1.25 mg/kg intraoperatively and then qdx4); prednisone (P) (500 mg methylprednisolone intraoperatively, 1 mg/kg × 1 day, 0.5 mg/kg × 2 days, 0.25 mg/kg × 2days, then d/c); MMF, 1 g b.i.d.; and CSA, 4mg/kg b.i.d. adjusted to achieve levels of 150-200 ng/mL (by HPLC). Exclusion criteria were delayed graft function or 1° disease requiring P. Minimum follow-up was 5.5 months (range 5.5 to 17.5 months). Outcome was compared vs. previous cohorts of LD recipients immunosuppressed with P/AZA/ CSA (n=171) or P/MMF/CSA (n = 43) (both without antibody induction). Results: For the RDS group, average CSA level (±S.E.) at 3 and 6 months was 190±12 and 180±9; avg. MMF dose, 1.7±0.1 g and 1.7±0.1 g. There was no significant difference in 6- and 12-month actuarial patient survival, graft survival and rejection-free graft survival between recipients on the RDS protocol vs. historical controls. For RDS recipients, actuarial 6- and 12-month rejection-free graft survival was 87%. Of the 51 RDS recipients, five (10%) have had AR (at 20 days, 1 month, 3 months, 3 months, and 3.5 months post-transplant). After treatment, all five were maintained on 5mg P; there have been no second AR episodes. Two additional recipients were started on 5 mg P due to low white blood count (WBC) and low/no MMF. Of the 51 grafts, one has failed (death with function). Average serum Cr level (±S.E.) at 3 and 6 months for RDS recipients was 1.7±0.5 (NS vs. historical controls). Conclusion: For low-risk LD recipients, a kidney transplant with an RDS protocol does not increase risk of AR or graft loss. Future studies will need to be done to assess AR rates with an RDS protocol in cadaver transplant recipients and in recipients with delayed graft function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-283
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Transplantation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2001


  • Kidney transplant
  • Steroid discontinuation


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