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Keywords:

  • pediatric;
  • renal;
  • transplant;
  • steroid-free

Abstract:  Renal transplantation in children has traditionally required immunosuppression with multiple medications including glucocorticoids. Data collected over almost 30 yr suggest that although glucocorticoids are efficacious as part of a regimen to minimize the incidence of acute rejection episodes, their use is associated with increased risk for post-transplant hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and reduced growth rates. We desired to reduce these complications and thus used an immunosuppressive protocol including daclizumab, tacrolimus, and mycophenolate mofetil and study the efficacy of this protocol in a population with a high percentage of African-American recipients. No patient received glucocorticoids at any time post-transplant. Our results show that at 1 yr post-transplant, glomerular filtration rate, serum glucose, calcium and phosphorous metabolism, serum magnesium, and serum lipids were similar in patients receiving steroid-free and those receiving steroid-based immunosuppression. The incidence of acute rejection was similar in the two groups. Hematocrit and white blood count levels were lower 1 month after transplant in the steroid-free patients but these levels increased within several months. Systolic blood pressure was similar in the two groups, although this was achieved, in part, in the patients who received steroids by the administration of medications to lower blood pressure. Finally, tacrolimus levels were similar in the two groups, but patients receiving steroids required higher doses of tacrolimus at several time points studied during the first post-transplant year. Taken together, our data suggests that at one-year follow-up, steroid-free immunosuppression is safe, and efficacious in pediatric renal transplant recipients.