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.