Steroid-free Medication Lowers Rejection Rate for Kidney Transplants

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Alternate Treatments Avoid the Side Effects of Long-Term Steroid Use

Kidney transplant recipients are typically required to take daily steroids as part of their anti-rejection medications. However, long-term steroid use has significant side effects. A new study in Clinical Transplantation explored a combination of steroid-free medications that resulted in excellent patient outcomes and a very low rejection rate.

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Long-term steroid use is associated with bone disease, obesity and slow growth rate in pediatric patients. Therefore, much effort has been made toward decreasing, withdrawing or completely avoiding the use of steroids in clinical organ transplantation.

A review of 301 patients that were given steroid-free medications at the Ohio State University Medical Center found that only 4.9 percent experienced rejection. In a second review, studying 502 patients who received typical, steroidal medications at the same institution, the rejection rate rose to 9.4 percent.

"The idea behind the research presented is to evaluate the feasibility of omitting the prescription of steroid medications to kidney transplant recipients," says Amer Rajab, M.D., Ph. D. and lead author of the study. "We conclude that a significantly lower incidence of rejection can be achieved using steroid free maintenance."

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