Background: Renal transplant recipients are at increased risk of developing skin cancer. It remains difficult to establish the actual influence of overimmunosuppression in the development of skin cancers. We investigated whether lymphocyte subset count may predict the risk of developing skin cancer in long-term renal transplant recipients.
Methods: One hundred fifty long-term renal transplant recipients were followed for a mean period of 26 months. Each patient was examined at least annually by a dermatologist. Lymphocyte subsets were measured annually.
Results: Fifteen patients exhibited skin cancers. Patients with and without skin cancer did not differ in age, gender, transplant duration, hemodialysis duration before transplantation, immunosuppressive regimen, and serum creatinine concentration. CD4 cell counts were significantly lower in patients with skin cancers (330+/-179/mm3 vs. 503+/-338/mm3; P<0.01), whereas total lymphocyte and CD8 and CD19 cell counts were similar between the two groups.
Conclusions: CD4 cell depletion is associated with skin cancer in long-term renal transplant recipients.