Death with a functioning graft remains a major challenge following kidney transplantation. Steroid dosing may be a modifiable risk factor. Collaborative Transplant Study (CTS) data were analyzed to assess the relationship between long-term steroid dose and death with function during years 2–5 posttransplant in 41 953 adult recipients of a deceased-donor kidney transplant during 1995–2010. Steroid dose at year 1 correlated significantly with death with function overall, and with death due to cardiovascular disease or infection (all p < 0.001). In patients with optimal graft function (serum creatinine <130 μmol/L) and no anti-rejection treatment during (a) year 1 (b) years 1 and 2, these significant associations remained (all p < 0.001). The center-specific incidence of steroid withdrawal during year 2 showed a significant inverse association with death due to cardiovascular disease (p < 0.001) or infection (p < 0.001) overall, and within the subpopulation with good graft function and no rejection during year 1 (p = 0.002 and p < 0.001, respectively). Maintenance steroid dose shows a highly significant association with death with a functioning graft caused by cardiovascular disease or infection during years 2–5 after kidney transplantation, even in patients with good graft outcomes in whom steroid treatment would appear to be unnecessary.
In this retrospective registry analysis of kidney transplants, maintenance steroid dose shows a significant association with death due to infection or cardiovascular disease even in patients with good graft outcome in whom steroid treatment would appear to be unnecessary.