Comparison of four different immunosuppression protocols without long-term steroid therapy in kidney recipients monitored by surveillance biopsy: five-year outcomes.
Induction and maintenance immunosuppression protocols with or without long-term steroid therapy in kidney transplant recipients are variable and are transplant center-specific. The aim of this prospective randomized pilot study was to compare 5-year outcomes in kidney recipients maintained on 4 different calcineurin inhibitor (CNI)-based immunosuppression protocols without long-term steroid therapy. Two hundred consenting patients who received kidney transplants between June 2000 and October 2004 were enrolled in 4 immunosuppression protocol groups, with 50 patients in each group: cyclosporine (CSA)/mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), CSA/sirolimus (SRL), tacrolimus (TAC)/MMF, and TAC/SRL. Induction therapy was done with basiliximab and methylprednisolone. Steroids were withdrawn on post-transplant day 2, and long-term steroid therapy was not used. Demographic characteristics among the four groups were comparable; approximately 50% of the recipients were African American and > or =80% of the kidneys transplanted were from deceased donors. Clinical acute rejection (CAR) was confirmed by biopsy and treated with intravenous pulse steroid therapy. Steroid-unresponsive CAR was treated with Thymoglobulin. Surveillance biopsies were performed at 1, 6, 12, 24, 36, 48, and 60 months to evaluate subclinical acute rejection (SCAR), chronic allograft injury (CAI), and other pathological changes per the Banff 2005 schema. The primary end point was CAR, and secondary end points were 5-year patient and graft survival rates, renal function, SCAR, CAI, and adverse events. In the first year post-transplant, the incidence of CAR was 18% in the CSA/MMF group, 8% in the CSA/SRL group, 14% in the TAC/MMF group, and 4% in the TAC/SRL group (CSA/MMF vs. TAC/SRL; p=0.05). The incidence of SCAR was 22% in the CSA/MMF group, 8% in the CSA/SRL group, 16% in the TAC/MMF group, and 6% in the TAC/SRL group (CSA/MMF vs. CSA/SRL and TAC/SRL; p=0.05). After the first year, the incidences of CAR and SCAR decreased and were comparable in all 4 groups. At 5 years post-transplant, cumulative CAI due to interstitial fibrosis/tubular atrophy (IF/TA), hypertension (HTN), and chronic calcineurin inhibitor (CNI) toxicity was observed in 54%, 48%, and 8% of the CSA/MMF group vs. 16%, 36%, and 12% of the CSA/SRL group vs. 38%, 24% and 6% of the TAC/MMF group vs. 14%, 25% and 12% of the TAC/SLR group (IF/TA: CSA/MMF vs. CSA/SRL and TAC/SRL; p=0.04, HTN: CSA/MMF vs. TAC/MMF and TAC/SRL; p=0.05, CNI toxicity: TAC/SRL and CSA/SRL vs. TAC/MMF; p=0.05). Five-year patient and graft survival rates were 82% and 60% in the CSA/MMF group, 82% and 60% in the CSA/SRL group, 84% and 62% in the TAC/MMF group, and 82% and 64% in the TAC/SRL group (p=0.9). Serum creatinine levels and creatinine clearances at 5 years were comparable among the groups. Our data show that the rates of CAR and SCAR in the first year post-transplant were significantly lower in the CSA/SRL and TAC/SRL groups and that cumulative CAI rates due to IF/TA and HTN at 5 years were significantly lower in the TAC/MMF, TAC/SRL, and CSA/SRL groups than in the CSA/MMF group. Despite significant differences in the incidences of CAR and SCAR and prevalence of different types of CAI at 5 years, renal function and patient and graft survival rates at 5 years were comparable among kidney recipients maintained on 4 different immunosuppression protocols without long-term steroid therapy.
Anil Kumar, MS; Irfan Saeed, M; Ranganna, K; Malat, G; Sustento-Reodica, N; Kumar, AMS; Meyers, WC
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