Objective: To compare outcomes with early corticosteroid withdrawal (CSWD) and chronic low dose corticosteroid therapy (CCS).
Summary background data: Final, 5-year results from the first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of early CSWD (at 7 days posttransplant) are presented.
Methods: Adult recipients of deceased and living donor kidney transplants without delayed graft function were randomized to receive prednisone (5 mg/d after 6 months posttransplant) or CSWD. Blinding was maintained for 5 years. This clinical trial is registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT00650468).
Results: Results in 386 patients CSWD (n = 191), CCS (n = 195) are presented (CSWD; CCS). No differences were observed at 5 years in the proportion of patients experiencing: primary end point (composite of death, graft loss, or moderate/severe acute rejection) (30/191 (15.7%); 28/195 (14.4%)), patient death (11/191(5.8%);13/195 (6.7%)), death-censored graft loss (11/191 (5.8%); 7/195(3.6%)), biopsy confirmed acute rejection (BCAR) (34/191 (17.8%); 21/195 (10.8%), P = 0.058), moderate/severe acute rejection (15/191 (7.9%); 12/195 (6.2%)). Kaplan Meier analyses of the primary end point and its components also showed no differences; but BCAR was higher with CSWD (P = 0.04). Increased BCAR episodes were primarily corticosteroid-sensitive Banff 1A rejections: the incidence of antibody-treated BCAR was similar between groups (11/191 (5.8%); 13/195 (6.7%)). No differences in renal function were observed at 5 years: mean serum creatinine (1.5 +/- 0.6; 1.5 +/- 0.7 mg/dL), or Cockroft Gault calculated creatinine clearance (58.6 +/- 19.7; 59.8 +/- 20.5 mL/min). CSWD was associated with improved serum triglycerides (evaluated by mean and median change from baseline) at all time points (except at 5 years measured by mean change). Weight change also demonstrated changes favoring CSWD (median change from baseline at 5 years: 5.1 vs. 7.7 kg, P = 0.05). New onset diabetes after transplant (NODAT) was similar with respect to proportions who required treatment (23/107 (21.5%)); 18/86 (20.9%); however, fewer CSWD patients required insulin for NODAT at 5 years (4/107 (3.7%)); 10/86 (11.6%), P = 0.049). Changes in HgA1c values (from baseline) were lower in CSWD patients at all time points except 4 years.
Conclusions: Early CSWD, compared with CCS, is associated with an increase in BCAR primarily because of mild, Banff 1A, steroid-sensitive rejection, yet provides similar long-term renal allograft survival and function. CSWD provides improvements in cardiovascular risk factors (triglycerides, NODAT requiring insulin, weight gain). Tacrolimus/MMF/antibody induction therapy allows early CSWD with results comparable to long-term low dose (5 mg/d) prednisone therapy.