Steroid withdrawal from long-term immunosuppression in liver allograft recipients

Transplantation. 1993 Apr;55(4):789-94. doi: 10.1097/00007890-199304000-00020.


Corticosteroids were withdrawn from the immunosuppressive regimen of 168/197 (85%) of liver transplant patients who survived for more than three months. In 14, steroids were restarted for reasons other than rejection. The remaining 154 patients were evaluated for the occurrence of rejection and graft loss. Risk factors for the development of rejection after steroid withdrawal were assessed. There were 13 episodes of rejection in 12 (7.8%) grafts; 7 (4.5%) experienced acute cellular rejection, and 6 (3.9%) developed chronic ductopenic rejection. All cases of acute rejection resolved with high-dose steroids. Graft and patient loss due to chronic rejection was 3 (1.9%) and 2 (1.3%), respectively. Chronic rejection resolved in 1 patient, 1 was successfully retransplanted, and in the other 2 the principal cause of death was recurrent tumor. None of the risk factors examined (primary indication for transplant, severity of previous acute rejection, use of OKT3, retransplantation, ABO blood group donor/recipient match, CMV infection, and CsA mono versus CsA and AZA double therapy) were associated with the development of chronic rejection poststeroid withdrawal. The prevalence of side effects, after steroid withdrawal, was low; 66% of patients never required antihypertensive medication; 14% experienced a significant septic episode, and only 4 died with sepsis as the major factor. There were no fungal sepsis and no new cases of diabetes. Withdrawal of corticosteroids after 3 months can be successfully achieved in the majority of liver allograft recipients and is associated with a low rate of rejection, graft loss, and complications attributable to immunosuppressive medication.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Azathioprine / pharmacology
  • Cyclosporine / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Graft Rejection / epidemiology
  • Graft Rejection / prevention & control
  • Graft Survival / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression / methods
  • Liver Transplantation / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisolone / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / etiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Cyclosporine
  • Prednisolone
  • Azathioprine