Background: One third of cadaveric kidney transplant recipients suffer graft loss within five years of transplantation. Non-immunologic factors that predict mortality among non-transplant patients also may be potentially modifiable risk factors for mortality among patients with transplant failure.
Methods: Applying multivariate survival analysis to data from the United States Renal Data System, we determined the effect of immunologic or transplant related factors and non-immunologic factors on mortality in patients who initiated dialysis after kidney transplant failure in the United States between April 1995 and September 1998.
Results: A total of 4741 patients were followed for a median +/- standard deviation of 15 +/- 11 months after initiation of dialysis after transplant failure. The majority of the 1016 (21%) deaths were due to cardiac (36%) or infectious (17%) causes. Patients in the following groups had an increased risk for all-cause mortality: older patients [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.04 per year, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.03-1.04], women (HR = 1.31, 95% CI 1.10-1.56), patients of white race (HR = 1.94, 95% CI 1.32-2.84), patients with diabetes (HR = 1.76, 95% CI 1.43-2.16), peripheral vascular disease (HR = 1.94, 95% CI 1.54-2.43), congestive heart failure (HR = 1.26, 95% CI 1.05-1.53), drug use (HR = 2.23; 95% CI 1.08-4.60), smokers (HR = 1.35, 95% CI 1.01-1.81), first transplant recipients (HR = 1.32, 95% CI 1.02-1.69), and patients with a higher glomerular filtration rate (GFR) at dialysis initiation (HR = 1.04 per mL/min higher, 95% CI 1.02-1.06). Those with private insurance (HR = 0.67, 95% CI 0.49-0.93) and higher serum albumin (HR = 0.73 per g/dL higher, 95% CI 0.64-0.83) had a decreased risk for all-cause mortality. Acute rejection, antibody induction, donor source, duration of graft survival and the maximum attained GFR during transplantation did not predict all-cause mortality.
Conclusions: Non-immunologic factors predicted mortality among patients with transplant failure but immunologic and transplant related factors did not. Prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of co-morbid conditions and the complications of chronic kidney disease may improve the survival of patients with transplant failure.