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Transplantation. 1993 May;55(5):1029-33.

The beneficial effects of steroid withdrawal on blood pressure and lipid profile in children posttransplantation in the cyclosporine era.

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Department of Pediatrics, SUNY Health Science Center, Brooklyn 11203.


Steroid therapy posttransplantation has been correlated with hyperlipidemia and hypertension. With improved graft survivals in the cyclosporine (CsA) era, post-tx hyperlipidemia and hypertension may place children at high risk for early atherosclerosis. Presently there are no large studies assessing the metabolic effects of steroid withdrawal in tx children. Thus, we report on the effect of prednisone withdrawal on blood pressure, weight, and serum lipid levels in children post-tx maintained on CsA alone. Pred taper is attempted in patients on CsA (6-7 mg/kg/day) with stable graft function and is extended over a 6-month period. Once a rejection is diagnosed pred is restarted and no future attempts to withdraw are made. BP, weight, and overnight fasting serum cholesterol (Schol) levels were measured 1 month prior to complete withdrawal (A), and after 6 months without pred (B). In patients requiring the restart of pred, subsequent measurements were obtained 6 months later (C). Of 74 tx children, 7 had primary nonfunction. Pred was successfully withdrawn in 49% (33) of the remaining 67. Of these patients, 42% (14/33) are still maintained off pred with stable renal function for a mean duration of 58.5 months (range 8-99 months). Nineteen patients had to be restarted on pred secondary to rejection between 7-36 months after withdrawal. Three of the patients subsequently lost their grafts to further rejection episodes. Univariate and multivariate analysis failed to identify clinical predictors of successful steroid withdrawal. The Schol at B, 171 +/- 5.4 mg/dl (mean +/- SEM) was lower (P < .001) than at A (249 +/- 10 mg/dl) or C (257 +/- 20 mg/dl). The systolic BP at B (108 +/- 2.8 mmHg) and diastolic BP at B (68 +/- 2.6 mmHg) were also lower (P < .001) than at A (122 +/- 3.2, 76 +/- 2.7 mmHg) or C (130 +/- 5, 80 +/- 3.2 mmHg), respectively. No difference in weight was noted. Lipid profile (total chol, triglyceride, HDL, VLDL, LDL) was measured in 10/14 patients off pred (mean age at sample 16.25 years) and was compared with 13 patients on pred (mean 15.5 years). Both the total chol (176 +/- 9.2, 265 +/- 8.3 mg/dl) and LDL (109 +/- 10, 167 +/- 9.2 mg/dl) were higher (P < .001) in the group on pred. Based on our findings of increased LDL and total chol, children on long-term pred therapy post-tx may be at increased risk for atherosclerotic disease.

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