The influence of immunomodulatory diets on transplant success and complications.
BACKGROUND: Animal studies have shown that dietary supplementation with arginine and lipids containing the omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids prolong allograft survival in animals receiving a short course of low-dose cyclosporine. They also reduce cardiovascular complications and infections in humans.
METHODS: Adult renal transplant patients receiving standard immunosuppression were stratified according to gender, diabetic state, donor source (LD or CD), and first versus repeat transplant, and randomized to receive or not receive supplemental arginine and canola oil (containing both omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids) twice daily. Patients were followed for a minimum of 3 years.
RESULTS: Seventy-six patients were randomized to the supplement group (S) and 71 patients to the control group (C). Intent-to-treat analysis revealed that S patients had fewer post-30 day first rejection episodes (5.4%) when compared with the C group (23.7%) (P=0.01) and fewer post-30 day episodes of calcineurin inhibitor (CNI) drug toxicity (9.2% vs. 35.3%, P=0.003). S patients developed new onset diabetes mellitus (NODM) less frequently by 3 years (2.3% vs. 14.5%, P=0.04), had fewer cardiac events (5.0% vs. 17.1%, P=0.05), and fewer episodes of sepsis (6.5% vs. 18.7%, P=0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: Dietary supplementation with L-arginine and canola oil is a safe, inexpensive, and unique treatment, which is associated with decreased rejection rates and CNI toxicity after the first month in renal transplant patients. Due to reductions in NODM and cardiac events, long-term benefits for patient survival may be particularly important.