Is it safe to withdraw steroids within seven days of renal transplantation?


  • Conflict of interest: None.

Corresponding author: Prof. Liming Wang, Department of Organ Transplantation, Changzheng Hospital, No. 415 Fengyang Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai 200003, China.

Tel.: 0086 21 63524488; fax: 0086 21 63524488;




The safety of very early steroid withdrawal (VESW) in renal transplant recipients remains unclear.


Literature searches for all randomized controlled trials comparing VESW with steroid maintenance regimens were performed using MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library. Quality assessment was performed in each trial. Meta-analyses were performed to demonstrate the pooled effects of relative risk (RR) and weighted mean difference with 95% confidence intervals (CI).


A total of 3520 participants from 15 RCTs were included. VESW regimen increased the incidence of acute rejection (AR) over controls (RR = 1.46, CI = 1.20–1.79, p = 0.04). Subsequent analysis demonstrated that such difference lost significance in patients receiving tacrolimus (p = 0.16), but remained significant in patients with cyclosporin (p < 0.00001). The increased AR episodes were predominantly mild. VESW was associated with an increased incidence of delayed graft function (DGF) when steroids were withdrawn within three d post-transplantation. Cardiovascular risk factors, including incidence of new onset diabetes and total cholesterol, were significantly reduced under VESW regimen.


It is safe and practical to withdraw steroids very early after renal transplantation. However, a three- to seven-d course of steroids may decrease the risk for DGF relative to steroid withdrawal in <3 d. Antibody induction is effective in preventing early AR.