Outcomes of kidney transplant recipients admitted to the intensive care unit: a retrospective study of 200 patients

BMC Anesthesiol. 2019 Jul 17;19(1):130. doi: 10.1186/s12871-019-0800-0.


Background: Risk of over-immunosuppression or immunization may mitigate the overall and long-term renal outcomes of kidney transplant recipients (KTR) admitted to the ICU in the modern era but remain poorly described. Thus, there is an unmet need to better characterize the survival of KTR admitted to the ICU, but also the renal and immunological outcomes of survivors.

Methods: Retrospective observational study that included 200 KTR admitted between 2010 and 2016 to the ICU of a teaching hospital (median age 61 years [IQR 50.7-68]; time from transplantation 41 months [IQR 5-119]). Survival curves were compared using the Log-rank test.

Results: Mortality rates following admission to the ICU was low (26.5% at month-6), mainly related to early mortality (20% in-hospital), and predicted by the severity of the acute condition (SAPS2 score) but also by Epstein Barr Virus proliferation in the weeks preceding the admission to the ICU. Acute kidney injury (AKI) was highly prevalent (85.1%). Progression toward chronic kidney disease (CKD) was observed in 45.1% of survivors. 15.1% of survivors developed new anti-HLA antibodies (donor-specific antibodies 9.2% of cases) that may impact the long-term renal transplantation function.

Conclusions: Notwithstanding the potential biases related to the retrospective and monocentric nature of this study, our findings obtained in a large cohort of KTR suggest that survival of KTR admitted in ICU is good but in-ICU management of these patients may alter both survival and AKI to CKD transition, as well as HLA immunization. Further interventional studies, including systematic characterization of the Epstein Barr virus proliferation at the admission (i.e., a potential surrogate marker of an underlying immune paralysis and frailty) will need to address the optimal management of immunosuppressive regimen in ICU to improve survival but also renal and immunological outcomes.

Keywords: HLA immunization; Intensive care unit; Outcomes; Renal transplantation.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / epidemiology
  • Aged
  • Cytomegalovirus / physiology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • HLA Antigens / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / physiology
  • Hospital Mortality*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Infections / epidemiology
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Isoantibodies / blood
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Massive Hepatic Necrosis / mortality
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Shock, Cardiogenic / mortality
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Transplant Recipients*
  • Viremia / mortality
  • Virus Replication


  • HLA Antigens
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Isoantibodies