Objective: To determine the outcome of renal transplantation in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and end-stage renal failure and to compare disease activity after transplantation with disease activity before transplantation.
Design: Retrospective case finding using data for an 8-year period from the central registry for renal replacement therapy in The Netherlands.
Setting: Tertiary care hospitals with facilities for renal transplantation in the Netherlands.
Patients: Twenty-eight patients who fulfilled at least four of the American Rheumatology Association's criteria for the classification of systemic lupus erythematosus and who received a renal transplant.
Measurements: Actuarial survival rates for grafts and patients after transplantation, maximal nonrenal scores on the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index, and time-adjusted disease exacerbation rates in all patients before and after transplantation.
Results: The actuarial graft survival rate at 1 year and 5 years was 68% (95% CI, 47% to 82%) and 54% (CI, 25% to 77%), respectively, whereas the actuarial patient survival rate was 87% (CI, 69% to 96%) at 1 and 5 years. High disease activity was not found to affect graft survival adversely before the start of renal replacement therapy or during dialysis. After transplantation, disease activity per patient and the overall incidence of disease exacerbations decreased. One case of recurrent lupus nephritis was seen.
Conclusions: Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and end-stage renal failure are excellent candidates for renal transplantation; disease activity after transplantation is sporadic and low, and the recurrence of lupus nephritis is rare.