Prevalence and risk factors for delayed adrenal insufficiency after liver transplantation



Liver transplantation (LT) recipients are at risk for early and delayed adrenal insufficiency for multiple reasons. Although early adrenal insufficiency is known to occur in a high proportion of recipients maintained on steroid-free immunosuppressive regimens, the prevalence and risk factors associated with delayed functional adrenal gland atrophy (FAGA) are unknown because routine evaluation for this condition is not standard practice among LT centers. We investigated a group of 87 patients (64 males) transplanted for end-stage liver disease related to different etiologies. All underwent a standard corticotropin stimulation test (CST) when, after gradual steroid tapering, they had been maintained for at least 1 week on oral prednisone at a daily dose of 5 mg. FAGA, defined by a serum cortisol concentration that, 60 minutes after corticotropin administration, did not double the baseline level and remained <20 μg/dL, was diagnosed in 23/87 patients (26.4%). Stepwise logistic regression analysis selected as significant predictors of FAGA the cumulative dosage of corticosteroids administered (P < 0.01), the increase in the body mass index after LT (P < 0.01), a low serum cholesterol concentration (P = 0.005), and a high adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) serum level (P < 0.05) at the time CST was performed. In conclusion, FAGA is a common condition among LT recipients who are maintained on prolonged corticosteroid immunosuppressive treatment. Factors associated with FAGA include the cumulative steroid dose, weight changes after LT, and ACTH and cholesterol levels at the time of steroid withdrawal. Liver Transpl 14:1014–1019, 2008. © 2008 AASLD.