Posttransplant diabetes mellitus in pediatric thoracic organ recipients receiving tacrolimus-based immunosuppression

Transplantation. 2001 Jan 27;71(2):252-6. doi: 10.1097/00007890-200101270-00015.


Background: Posttransplantation diabetes mellitus (PTDM) is a well-known complication of tacrolimus-based immunosuppression in both adult and pediatric solid organ recipients. The "natural history" of diabetes in the pediatric thoracic transplant population has not yet been described.

Methods: We identified all pediatric thoracic transplant patients receiving tacrolimus-based immunosuppression who developed PTDM. Medical records were reviewed, with a particular focus on the clinical course of PTDM and its relationship to drug weaning.

Results: Diabetes developed in 24 of 143 (17%) 30-day survivors of heart (12/96, 13%) and heart-lung/lung (12/ 47, 26%) transplantation. In 17 (71%) patients, the immunosuppressive regimen at the onset of PTDM also included maintenance corticosteroids. Seventeen patients demonstrated glucose intolerance before the onset of diabetes. Nine patients (38%) developed diabetes during pulsed corticosteroid therapy. Median time of onset after transplantation was 9.0 months. All patients required s.c. insulin for glucose control. The median follow-up from transplant was 49.9 months. There was a significant decrease in mean tacrolimus dosage (P<0.01), tacrolimus level (P<0.04), and steroid dosage (P<0.02) from onset of PTDM to most recent follow-up. Despite this significant reduction in immunosuppression, only 3/24 (13%) patients were successfully weaned off insulin.

Conclusions: Diabetes mellitus is a common complication in pediatric thoracic transplant patients receiving tacrolimus-based immunosuppression. Insulin dependence in our population rarely resolved, even after lowering tacrolimus and steroid doses. Discontinuation of steroids did not guarantee resolution of diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Heart Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Heart-Lung Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Lung Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Tacrolimus / therapeutic use*
  • Thorax / immunology
  • Thorax / transplantation*


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Tacrolimus