Background: Insulin resistance has been implicated to underlie both excess cardiovascular disease and chronic transplant dysfunction after renal transplantation. Skeletal muscle mainly determines peripheral insulin resistance, and could therefore affect outcome.
Methods: All transplant recipients at our outpatient clinic with a functioning graft more than 1 year were invited to participate between 2001 and 2003. Mortality and death censored graft loss were recorded until August 2007. We used 24 hr urine creatinine excretion as measure of muscle mass. Cox regression was used to analyze the prospective data.
Results: Six hundred four renal transplant recipients (age 51+/-12 years, 55% men) were studied. Creatinine excretion was 10.1+/-2.6 mmol/24 hr in women and 13.6+/-3.4 mmol/24 hr in men. During follow-up of 5.3 (4.7-5.7) years, 95 recipients died and 42 suffered graft loss. Determinants of creatinine excretion were weight, sex, age, height, cumulative prednisolone doses, and diabetes (r2=0.45). Creatinine excretion was associated with both mortality (3rd vs. 1st tertile Hazard ratio: 0.4 [95% confidence interval 0.2-0.7], P=0.003) and graft loss (3rd vs. 1st tertile Hazard ratio: 0.4 [95% confidence interval 0.1-0.9], P=0.03) independent of age, sex, serum creatinine, proteinuria, insulin resistance related factors, time after transplantation, and duration of dialysis.
Conclusions: Creatinine excretion as measure of muscle mass is associated with mortality and graft loss after renal transplantation, independent of insulin resistance and its related factors. We speculate that preservation of muscle mass by stimulating exercise, sufficient diet, and less use of corticosteroids may be relevant for improving prognosis in renal transplant recipients.