Graft and patient survival in kidney transplant recipients selected for de novo steroid-free maintenance immunosuppression

Am J Transplant. 2009 Jan;9(1):160-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2008.02442.x. Epub 2008 Oct 24.


Steroid-free regimen is increasingly employed in kidney transplant recipients across transplant centers. However, concern remains because of the unknown impact of such an approach on long-term graft and patient survival. We studied the outcomes of steroid-free immunosuppression in a population-based U.S. cohort of kidney transplant recipients. All adult solitary kidney transplant recipients engrafted between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2006 were stratified according to whether they were selected for a steroid-free or steroid-containing regimen at discharge. Multivariate Cox regression models were used to estimate graft and patient survival. The impact of the practice pattern on steroid use at individual transplant centers was analyzed. Among 95 755 kidney transplant recipients, 17.2% were steroid-free at discharge (n = 16 491). Selection for a steroid-free regimen was associated with reduced risks for graft failure and death at 1 year (HR 0.78, 95% CI 0.72-0.85, and HR 0.73, 95% CI 0.65-0.82, respectively, p < 0.0001) and 4 years (HR 0.83, 95% CI 0.78-0.87, and HR 0.76, 95% CI 0.71-0.83, respectively, p < 0.0001). This association was mostly observed at individual centers where less than 65% of recipients were discharged on the steroid-containing regimen. De novo steroid-free immunosuppression as currently practiced in the United States appears to carry no increased risk of adverse clinical outcomes in the intermediate term.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Graft Survival*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Survival Analysis*
  • United States


  • Immunosuppressive Agents