The natural history of renal function following orthotopic heart transplant

Ziyad Al Aly, Samer Abbas, Eric Moore, Ousmane Diallo, Paul J Hauptman, Bahar Bastani
Clinical Transplantation 2005, 19 (5): 683-9

BACKGROUND: The outcome of solid organ transplantation has dramatically improved after the introduction of the calcineurin inhibitor cyclosporine. With the increasing longevity of heart transplant recipients, the long-term effects of cyclosporine on renal function have become more evident. The natural history of kidney function following orthotopic heart transplant is not well defined and long-term follow up studies are scant.

METHODS: We conducted an observational study on patients who received a heart transplant at Saint Louis University Hospital between January 1, 1983 and December 31, 1988. Patients were followed up for 15 yr or until death whichever occurred first. In order to assess the effect of heart transplantation and cyclosporine exposure on long-term renal function we restricted the statistical analysis to patients who survived the first year post-transplantation.

RESULTS: A total of 68 patients received orthotopic heart transplants at Saint Louis University Hospital between 1983 and 1988. Forty-eight (71%) patients survived for more than 1 yr. All patients were treated with cyclosporine based triple immunosuppressive regimen, with gradual cyclosporine dose reduction over time. The mean duration of follow-up was 8 yr. The estimated GFR at 5 and 10 yr post-transplant were significantly lower than estimated GFR at baseline and 1 yr post-transplant. There was no significant difference between estimated GFR at 15 yr and estimated GFR at baseline or 1 yr post-transplant. The cumulative incidence of chronic renal failure (GFR < or = 29 mL/min/1.73 m2) at 5, 10 and 15 yr was 4.2, 10.4 and 12.5%, respectively (p < 0.05). The cumulative incidence of severe chronic renal failure (GFR < or = 15 mL/min/1.73 m2) at 5, 10 and 15 yr was 2.1, 8.3 and 8.3%, respectively. The mortality rate was 8, 37, and 52% at 5, 10, and 15 yr, respectively. The 10 and 15 yr survivors had an estimated GFR at 1 yr post-transplant that was significantly higher than the non-survivors. Age, pre-transplantation estimated GFR, pre-transplantation diabetes and pre-transplantation hypertension are risk factors associated with > or = 10 mL/min/1.73 m2 decrement in estimated GFR.

CONCLUSION: Heart transplant survivors beyond the first year post-transplant have a significant decrease in renal function and significant mortality observed over time. Age, pre-transplant GFR, pre-transplant diabetes and pre-transplant hypertension are important risk factors for decrement in renal function.

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