Steroid-Free Immunosuppression in Pediatric Renal Transplantation: Rationale Outcomes Following Conversion to Steroid Based Therapy

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Abstract

Background.

Short-term outcomes using steroid-free immunosuppression after renal transplantation have been promising. No studies have examined the incidence of and reasons for steroid-avoidance protocol failures.

Methods.

We present a single-center analysis of steroid-free immunosuppression failures among 129 pediatric renal transplant recipients with mean follow-up of 5 years. We analyzed causes for failure and examined reasons for conversion to steroid-based therapy. We compared actual patient and allograft survival and allograft function in the cohort of patients who required conversion to steroid-based immunosuppression with that of the cohort maintaining steroid-free immunosuppression.

Results.

A total of 13.2% (17/129) of patients failed steroid-free immunosuppression. Actual patient survival was equivalent in the two cohorts, 96.4% for the cohort maintaining steroid-free immunosuppression and 94.1% for those requiring conversion. Actual allograft survival was lower in patients requiring conversion to a steroid-based protocol, 76.5% vs. 95.5% (P=0.004). Estimated glomerular filtration rates 12-months and 24-months posttransplant were greater in patients maintaining steroid-free immunosuppression (P=0.003). Most patients (52.9%, 9/17) who broke the steroid-free protocol did so because of refractory acute rejection. The second most common reason was recurrence of glomerulonephritis (GN; 35.3%, 6/17).

Conclusion.

The failure rate of steroid-free immunosuppression among selective pediatric patients undergoing renal transplantation is low. Patients maintaining steroid-free immunosuppression have better allograft survival and function than those requiring conversion to steroid-based therapy. The most common reasons for failure of steroid-free immunosuppression are recalcitrant or recurrent allograft rejection and recurrent GN; the role of conversion to steroid-based immunosuppression after episodes of acute rejection and recurrent GN requires additional analysis.

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