Steroid avoidance in renal transplantation using basiliximab induction, cyclosporine-based immunosuppression and protocol biopsies

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BackgroundReducing chronic steroid exposure is important to minimize steroid-related morbidity, particularly for susceptible renal transplant recipients. Steroid-free and steroid-sparing protocols have shown benefits, but safety has not been established for all populations. We investigated the safety of steroid avoidance (SA) in a population including African-Americans, using modern immunosuppression with protocol biopsy monitoring.MethodsA randomized-controlled SA trial (early discontinuation, days 2–7) was conducted in a population (n = 77) including African-Americans and cadaveric kidney recipients. Patients received basiliximab, cyclosporine (CsA), and mycophenolate mofetil (MMF). In controls, steroids were tapered to 5 mg prednisone/d by day 30. Protocol biopsies were performed (1, 6, 12 and 24 months) to evaluate subclinical acute rejection (SCAR) and chronic allograft nephropathy (CAN).ResultsThe SA did not result in significantly higher incidences of graft loss, AR, SCAR, CAN, or renal fibrosis. SA patients experienced similar renal function, comparable serum lipid levels, and a trend toward fewer cases of new-onset diabetes. Clinical outcomes of African-American and non-African-American patients did not significantly differ.ConclusionsThe SA is safe in the context of basiliximab induction and CsA-based immunosuppression. This protocol could minimize steroid-related side effects in susceptible groups, including African-Americans, without increasing the risk of AR or graft failure.

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