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Medicine (Baltimore). 1999 Nov;78(6):382-5.

Renal transplantation in scleroderma.

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Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029, USA.


Although the outcome of renal transplantation in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has been studied, there are few reports about the outcome of patients with systemic sclerosis who have undergone renal transplantation. We retrospectively collected data from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Scientific Renal Transplant Registry from a 10-year period. From 1987 to 1997, 86 patients with systemic sclerosis who had renal transplantation were identified. Of these 86 patients, 70% were women, 86% were Caucasian, and the mean age at transplantation was 50.4 years. The overall mortality was 24% of the patient group; 44% (38/86) of renal grafts failed. First- through fifth-year graft survival rates were 62%, 60%, 57%, 50%, and 47%, respectively. The causes of graft failure could not be ascertained in 24 of 38 patients (63%). Among the known causes, 5 had acute rejection, 4 had chronic rejection, 3 had recurrence of scleroderma, and 1 each had infection and graft thrombosis. Immunosuppressive regimens used in the patients with systemic sclerosis consisted of antilymphocyte globulin in at least 25%. Sixty percent received a combination of steroids, azathioprine, and cyclosporine. The use of cyclosporine was not associated with either improvement of graft survival or an increased rate of graft failure. Graft survival at 5 years in patients with systemic sclerosis was comparable to that of patients with SLE who received renal transplantation, according to existent medical literature. Based upon these data, renal transplantation is as effective a treatment for restoring renal function in patients with systemic sclerosis as it is in patients with SLE. Those patients with systemic sclerosis whose renal function did not improve with angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)-inhibitor treatments after scleroderma renal crisis should be considered as transplant candidates. Although the data are incomplete, the use of cyclosporine may not confer the advantage of improving graft survival in patients with systemic sclerosis as compared with SLE patients.

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