Experience with steroid-free maintenance immunosuppression in simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplantation

C E Freise, S M Kang, S Feng, A Posselt, K Hirose, R Hirose, P Stock
Transplantation Proceedings 2004, 36 (4): 1067-8

INTRODUCTION: Steroid avoidance is possible in simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplantation with the use of newer immunosuppressive agents and induction therapy. We undertook a retrospective consecutive case review of patients treated at a university tertiary referral center.

METHODS: Medical records of 44 consecutive patients receiving a pancreas-kidney transplant from November 2000 to September 2002 were reviewed. The immunosuppression protocol used in this series of patients consisted of thymoglobulin induction, combined with mycophenolate mofetil, tacrolimus, and sirolimus for maintenance immunosuppression. Steroids were used only while thymoglobulin was given and were typically discontinued by postoperative week 1. Main outcome measures included graft and patient survival rates, rejection rates of the kidney or pancreas, infection rates, and surgical complication rates.

RESULTS: All 44 patients received a kidney-pancreas transplant with systemic venous anastomosis and enteric drainage of the pancreas. Patient kidney, and pancreas survival rates were 95.6%, 93.2%, and 88.7%, respectively. Biopsy-proven pancreas rejection rates at 1 and 6 months posttransplant were 2.3% and 2.3%. Kidney rejection rates at 1 and 6 months were 2.3% and 4.6%. Reasons for patient loss included one death from sepsis and one cardiovascular death. Reasons for kidney loss besides death included a thrombotic microangiopathy. Reasons for pancreas loss included three thromboses, one mild rejection/infection, and one duodenal segment leak with infection. All patients who have been free of rejection have been off steroids for the duration of follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: Newer immunosuppression protocols without maintenance steroids are possible with minimal rejection in the first 3 months and equivalent patient and graft survival rates compared with earlier protocols utilizing steroids. The potential beneficial long-term impact of steroid avoidance will require further study.

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