Background. Steroid withdrawal (SW) after kidney transplantation is desirable to avoid associated serious side effects. We studied the long-term outcome of a group of kidney transplant recipients who underwent SW. Methods. Between 1991 and 1993, kidney transplant recipients (N = 12) who had posttransplantation diabetes were entered in a prospective trial of SW. These patients were compared with a demographically similar comparison cohort (N = 66). End points of the study were patient and graft survival, incidence of late acute and chronic rejection, and changes in diabetes management. Results. Previously published data from the SW group at 15 months of follow- up indicated improvement in diabetes control without any adverse effect on patient or graft actuarial survival. At long-term follow-up (mean, 56 months) the improvement in diabetes management was not detectable. The incidence of late acute rejection in SW and cohort groups was 42% and 8%, respectively (P = .006). Likewise, the incidence of chronic rejection in the SW versus cohort group was 42% and 12%, respectively (P = .014). Conclusions. Although SW appeared to be successful initially, our long-term data indicate that SW significantly increases the risk of late acute rejection and chronic rejection episodes without benefits in posttransplantation diabetes management. Steroid withdrawal in patients with posttransplantation diabetes should be approached with caution.
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