Background: It is unknown whether renal transplant recipients (RTR) have better outcomes and disease progression rates compared to patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) when matched for the level of kidney function.
Methods: We analyzed data on 1762 patients with CKD (N = 872) and RTR (N = 890) over 16 years, applying the new Kidney/Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (K/DOQI) staging system for CKD in a single center retrospective study. Patients were further divided based their native kidney disease. We determined disease progression by the slope of creatinine clearance decline and patient and kidney survival rates adjusted for age, gender and stage of kidney function, using Cox proportional hazards models.
Results: The overall rate of creatinine clearance decline in patients with CKD was -6.6 +/- 8.7 mL/min/year compared to -1.9 +/- 4.7 mL/min/year in RTR (P < 0.0001). The rate of decline per stage of CKD was also significantly lower in RTR. Whereas overall kidney survival was higher in RTR compared to patients with CKD (49.6% vs. 17.2%, respectively, P < 0.001), patient survival was not statistically different between the two groups (74.7% vs. 80.3%, respectively, P = 0.25).
Conclusion: RTR had similar mortality rates compared to patients with CKD despite enjoying slower rates of disease progression and better kidney survival rates. These data suggest that RTR are a unique subset of patients with CKD whose comorbid conditions likely offset the potential benefits of slower rates of progression.