Background. Numerous studies of steroid withdrawal have been carried out in kidney and liver transplant recipients, but only a few in pancreas transplant recipients. Yet, pancreas transplant recipients could have significant long-term benefits from steroid withdrawal. Methods. We performed a retrospective analysis to determine the feasibility of steroid withdrawal in pancreas transplant recipients. Results. Of 360 recipients who underwent a pancreas transplant between January 1, 1994 and June 30, 1998, 14 attempted steroid withdrawal (12 simultaneous pancreas-kidney [SPK]; 2 pancreas transplant alone [PTA]). Reasons for steroid withdrawal were bone fractures (n = 3), psychiatric disorders (n = 2), severe acne (n = 1), recurrent infections (n = 4), and problems with hypercholesterolemia or hypertension (n = 4). All 14 were maintained on tacrolimus and mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) immunosuppression, except for 1 who was on tacrolimus and azathioprine (AZA). Of the 14 recipients, 11 had no episodes of acute rejection before steroid withdrawal. The remaining 3 had one or more acute rejection episodes. Of the 14 recipients, 10 (72) currently remain off steroids (mean follow-up 18 months, range 5-51 months). However, 4 recipients have resumed steroids: 2 after an acute rejection episode (at 2 and 21 months post-withdrawal) and 2 because of leukopenia (WBC < 3000) and an inability to tolerate full-dose MMF. Steroid withdrawal was unsuccessful in both PTA recipients and in 2 of the 12 SPK recipients. All 14 recipients currently have a functioning pancreas graft. However, 1 of the SPK recipients, in whom steroid withdrawal failed, has developed chronic kidney rejection and is now back on hemodialysis awaiting a retransplant. Conclusion. Steroid withdrawal is possible in up to 70 of pancreas transplant recipients. Further studies are necessary to define ideal candidates for steroid withdrawal. Based on the results of this analysis, we have launched a prospective, randomized trial of steroid withdrawal in pancreas transplant recipients.
- Pancreas transplants
- Steroid withdrawal