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Keywords:

  • end-stage renal disease;
  • immunosuppression;
  • kidney transplantation;
  • obesity;
  • steroid avoidance

Abstract:  Obesity is an important co-morbidity within end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and renal transplant populations. Previous studies have suggested that chronic corticosteroids result in increased body weight post-transplant. With the recent adoption of steroid-sparing immunosuppressive strategies, we evaluated the effect of these strategies on body mass index (BMI) after renal transplantation. We examined 95 renal transplant recipients enrolled in National Institutes of Health clinical transplant trials over the past three yr who received either lymphocyte depletion-based steroid sparing or traditional immunosuppressive therapy that included steroids for maintenance immunosuppression. Recipients were overweight prior to transplant and no significant differences existed in pre-transplant BMI among treatment groups. Regardless of therapy, BMI increased post-transplant in all recipients. The BMI increase consisted of an average weight gain of 5.01 ± 7.12 kg (mean, SD) post-transplant. Additionally, in a number of recipients placed on maintenance steroids, subsequent withdrawal at a mean of 100 d post-transplant had no impact on weight gain. Thus, body weight and BMI increase following kidney transplantation, even in the absence of steroids. Thus, patients gain weight after renal transplantation regardless of the treatment strategy. Steroid avoidance alone does not reduce risk factors associated with obesity in our patient population.