Complications of cyclosporine-prednisone immunosuppression in 402 renal allograft recipients exclusively followed at a single center for from one to five years

Transplantation. 1987 Feb;43(2):197-204. doi: 10.1097/00007890-198702000-00007.


The therapeutic efficacy of cyclosporine (CsA) as an immunosuppressive agent was complemented by a modest, long-term incidence of toxic complications in 402 renal allograft recipients engrafted one to five years prior to analysis. The overall patient and graft survivals at one year were 97% and 84% (actual), and at five years 92% and 67% (actuarial). The immunosuppressive therapeutic index was excellent: only 12% of allografts were lost from rejection, with 5% of patients succumbing to infection. While infections were common, tending to emanate in the urinary tract or to be viral in etiology, they were generally mild and readily controlled. Only four patients displayed malignancies; none succumbed to this cause. The most common toxic complication was hypertrichosis, which was accentuated in pediatric patients. While tremors occurred in 20% of patients, primarily during the first three months, other neuroectodermal complications of parethesias, depression, somnolence, and seizures were rare. Hepatotoxicity, which was noted in 50% of patients, particularly recipients of cadaveric grafts, generally was first seen as a transaminase elevation, at least partially reversible by dose-reduction and abating by the third year. Associated disturbances of cholelithiasis and pancreatitis were occasionally observed. Nephrotoxicity was the only persistent, long-term complication. Hypertension occurred in 72% of patients during the first month, 36% in the second year, and about 15% thereafter. Hyperuricemia, which occurred in about 30% of recipients during the first two years, was occasionally associated with symptomatic gout. The mean serum creatinine level remained elevated throughout the follow-up period at 1.8-1.9 mg/dl, suggesting persistent, but nonprogressive, drug-induced renal injury. The present analysis documents the relative safety of CsA for long-term therapy, and highlights the need for new approaches to ameliorate drug-induced nephrotoxicity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Azathioprine / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cyclosporins / adverse effects*
  • Cyclosporins / therapeutic use
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression
  • Kidney / physiology
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced
  • Prednisone / adverse effects*
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use
  • Transplantation, Homologous


  • Cyclosporins
  • Azathioprine
  • Prednisone