Background: Delayed graft function (DGF) is frequently observed in recipients of cadaveric renal transplants. Previous retrospective or nonrandomized studies have suggested that intraoperative administration of polyclonal antithymocyte preparations may reduce the incidence of DGF, possibly by decreasing ischemia-reperfusion injury.
Methods: We performed a prospective randomized study of Thymoglobulin induction therapy in adult cadaveric renal transplant recipients. Between January 2001 and January 2002, 58 adult cadaveric renal transplant recipients were randomized to receive intraoperative or postoperative Thymoglobulin induction therapy. Three to six doses of Thymoglobulin (1 mg/kg/dose) were administered during the first week posttransplant. Baseline immunosuppression consisted of tacrolimus (54 of 58) or cyclosporine A (4 of 58), steroids, and mycophenolate mofetil. DGF was defined by the requirement for hemodialysis within the first week posttransplant.
Results: There were no significant differences between the two groups in recipient demographics, donor age, cold ischemia time, or total number of doses of Thymoglobulin administered. Intraoperative Thymoglobulin administration was associated with significantly less DGF and a lower mean serum creatinine on postoperative days 10 and 14 (P<0.05). Posttransplant length of stay was also significantly shorter for the intraoperative Thymoglobulin patient group. The acute rejection rate was also lower in the intraoperative treatment group but this did not achieve statistical significance. There was no difference in the incidence of cytomegalovirus disease between the two groups.
Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that intraoperative Thymoglobulin administration, in adult cadaveric renal transplant recipients, is associated with a significant decrease in DGF, better early allograft function in the first month posttransplant, and a decreased posttransplant hospital length of stay.