A systematic review on steroid withdrawal between 3 and 6 months after kidney transplantation

Julio Pascual*, Cristina Galeano, Ana Royuela, Javier Zamora

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Steroid withdrawal (SW) after the first posttransplant months in patients receiving a kidney transplant has been recently discouraged in clinical guidelines. Methods. A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials assessing SW (beyond the second week after kidney transplantation) was performed. Only trials using a calcineurin inhibitor plus mycophenolic acid were included. Results. The nine trials (1820 participants) randomly withdrew steroids between 3 and 6 months after transplantation. Death and graft loss were similar in SW and control patients. Including all trials, acute rejection was not more frequent after SW, but stratifying by the drug used, cyclosporine A (CsA) was associated with an increased incidence of overall acute rejection (risk ratio 1.42, 95% confidence interval 1.08-1.87) or biopsy-proven acute rejection (risk ratio 1.61 95% confidence interval 1.20-2.17). Contrarily, tacrolimus allowed SW without increased biopsy-proven acute rejection (P interaction=0.005). Serum cholesterol level was lower after SW than in controls using CsA or tacrolimus. Serum creatinine, blood pressure, serum triglycerides, new-onset diabetes mellitus, infections, or malignancies were similar in SW and control patients. Conclusions. SW after 3 to 6 months of kidney transplantation is associated with increased rates of acute rejection only if CsA is used but not with tacrolimus. Graft function and survival remain stable up to 3 years after transplantation, the longest follow-up reported. The interest for late SW has decreased during the past years in the literature. More trials with carefully designed outcome measures are needed in patients treated with low-exposure tacrolimus and mycophenolic acid derivatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-349
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2010


  • Corticosteroid withdrawal
  • Immunosuppression withdrawal
  • Meta-analysis
  • Randomized controlled trials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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