Get access

Surveillance renal transplant biopsies and subclinical rejection at three months post-transplant in pediatric recipients


Leonard C. Hymes, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Nephrology, Emory University, 2015 Uppergate Drive, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
Tel.: 404-727-8213
Fax: 404-727-5750


Abstract:  Subclinical acute rejection (SCR) has been increasingly recognized in adult renal transplant recipients with the advent of surveillance biopsies. However, in children, surveillance biopsies are not routinely performed at most centers. Therefore, the incidence, predisposing factors, treatment, and clinical outcomes of SCR remain unclear in children. From August 2004 to December 2005, we performed 36 protocol biopsies at three months post-transplantation. All patients had received induction therapy with basiliximab and were maintained on prednisone, MMF, and tacrolimus. Sixteen cases of SCR were detected by biopsy (44%). Age, gender, race, donor source, or serum creatinine did not discriminate between children with SCR and those with normal biopsies. All cases of SCR were treated with high doses of methylprednisolone. At one yr post-transplant, renal function was similar in children with SCR to those with normal surveillance biopsies (p = 0.62). Because of the high incidence of SCR, the maintenance dose of MMF was increased by 50% in 20 children transplanted after December 2005. This resulted in a significant decline in the incidence of SCR from 44 to 15% (p < 0.05). However, the incidence of polyomavirus (BK) viremia also increased significantly in these children (p < 0.005). Conclusion: A high incidence of SCR was found on surveillance biopsies at three months post-transplant and could not be predicted by age, gender, race, donor source, or serum creatinine. The occurrence of SCR declined significantly by increasing the dose of MMF, but resulted in an increase in BK viremia. We conclude that surveillance biopsies provide valuable information in the management of pediatric renal transplant recipients. Increasing immunosuppression to avoid SCR should be weighed against the risk for infection.