Background: African American kidney transplant recipients generally exhibit poor long-term graft survival compared with other ethnic groups. The combination of sirolimus, tacrolimus, and corticosteroids has proven to be effective in reducing rejection episodes in high-risk organ and islet cell transplant recipients but has not yet been tested in a large number of African American patients.
Methods: The outcomes of 56 African American adult, primary kidney transplant recipients treated with corticosteroids, sirolimus, and tacrolimus targeted to relatively low trough blood levels were compared with those of a concurrent group of 65 white patients treated with steroids, mycophenolate mofetil, and tacrolimus targeted to relatively high blood levels. Induction antibody therapy was not routinely used in either group.
Results: The incidence of acute rejection in the first 3 posttransplantation months was 7.1% in African Americans and 16.9% in whites (P=NS). Actuarial 2-year patient, graft, and rejection-free graft survival rates were equivalent in the two groups. Posttransplantation diabetes mellitus occurred in 36% of the African American patients, despite similar doses of corticosteroids and lower trough levels of tacrolimus, compared with 15% of white patients (P=0.024).
Conclusions: The combination of corticosteroids, sirolimus, and relatively low doses of tacrolimus results in acute rejection, graft survival, and patient survival rates equivalent to those achieved in white patients receiving steroids, mycophenolate mofetil, and relatively high doses of tacrolimus, even without the routine use of induction antibody therapy. Posttransplantation diabetes mellitus remains a problem for African Americans receiving this combination of immunosuppressants, despite relatively low tacrolimus blood levels.