Steroid avoidance immunosuppression in low-risk kidney transplant recipients

R. L. Heilman, M. J. Mazur, K. S. Reddy, A. Moss, D. Post, D. Mulligan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Recent clinical trials have documented the short-term safety of steroid avoidance (SA) in kidney transplant recipients. Since July 2003, we have used a SA immunosuppression protocol for low-risk kidney transplant recipients. Eligibility criteria are age <18, primary transplant (living or deceased donor), and tacrolimus started by postoperative day 3. Recipients were excluded if peak/current PRA was >50%/20%, or if they had a positive flow crossmatch, or if they had the recent use of corticosteroids (<6 months). All recipients received induction with rabbit anti-thymocyte globulin, total dose 6 mg/kg, or basiliximab. Recipients received 5 daily doses of corticosteroid and mycophenolate mofetil 1 gm twice daily starting on the day of transplantation. Tacrolimus was started when the serum creatinine level decreased by 20%, or by postoperative day 3. The goal for trough tacrolimus levels was 10-15 ng/mL for the first month, 8-12 ng/mL for months 2-3, and 5-10 ng/mL after month 3. Protocol biopsies (bx) were performed at reperfusion, 1 month, 4 months, and 12 months. Ninety-four kidney transplantations were performed during the study period. Sixty-seven recipients (71%) were eligible and enrolled in SA. Characteristics of the 67 SA recipients: mean age, 53 years (range, 26-70); 41% female; 67% Caucasian; 24% Hispanic; 15% African American; and 5% Native American. Also, 77% received a living donor kidney. The mean follow-up was 180 days (range, 10-360). At last follow-up, 91% remained steroid-free. Biopsy-proven acute rejection (BPAR) occurred in 5 recipients (7.5%). Three recipients (4.5%) had clinical BPAR and 2 had subclinical. One recipient died with pneumonia 4 months following transplantation. Posttransplantation diabetes mellitus (PTDM) occurred in 2 (5%) of 38 recipients. In the initial 41 recipients, 27 had protocol bx at 1 month and 13 at 4 months available for analysis. Chronic allograft nephropathy (CAN) was present on protocol bx in 48% at 1 month and 69% at 4 month. Actuarial (Kaplan-Meier method) patient and graft survival rates at 351 days were 97.8% and 96.8%, respectively. SA with anti-thymocyte globulin induction in low-immunologic risk kidney transplant recipients is safe and is associated with a low risk of BPAR. The incidence of PTDM appears to be lower.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1785-1788
Number of pages4
JournalTransplantation proceedings
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Transplantation


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