Outcomes of Steroid-Avoidance Protocols in Pediatric Kidney Transplant Recipients


Edward Nehus, edward.nehus@cchmc.org


Advances in immunosuppression have facilitated increased use of steroid-avoidance protocols in pediatric kidney transplantation. To evaluate such steroid avoidance, a retrospective cohort analysis of pediatric kidney transplant recipients between 2002 and 2009 in the United Network for Organ Sharing database was performed. Outcomes (acute rejection and graft loss) in steroid-based and steroid-avoidance protocols were assessed in 4627 children who received tacrolimus and mycophenolate immunosuppression and did not have multiorgan transplants. Compared to steroid-based protocols, steroid avoidance was associated with decreased risk of acute rejection at 6 months posttransplant (8.3% vs. 10.9%, p = 0.02) and improved 5-year graft survival (84% vs. 78%, p < 0.001). However, patients not receiving steroids experienced less delayed graft function (p = 0.01) and pretransplant dialysis, were less likely to be African-American and more frequently received a first transplant from a living donor (all p < 0.001). In multivariate analysis, steroid avoidance trended toward decreased acute rejection at 6 months, but this no longer reached statistical significance, and there was no association of steroid avoidance with graft loss. We conclude that, in clinical practice, steroid avoidance appears safe with regard to graft rejection and loss in pediatric kidney transplant recipients at lower immunologic risk.