Alternate-day steroid dosing improves growth without adversely affecting graft survival or long-term graft function. A report of the North American Pediatric Renal Transplant Cooperative Study.
Data from the North American Pediatric Renal Transplant Cooperative Study were analyzed to determine the effects of alternate-day (QOD) steroid dosing on growth, graft survival, and graft function in children with functioning grafts 12 months after transplantation. At 12 months after transplantation, 16.8% (337/2001) of transplant recipients were receiving QOD dosing. The basis for the selection of a steroid dosing regimen cannot be determined from registry data; however, the frequency of QOD dosing differed by donor source, race, age at transplant, and the occurrence of rejection episodes in the first year. The effect of the steroid dosing pattern on growth was evaluated in children continuously on either QOD or daily (QD) steroid dosing. The mean change in the standardized height scores from 1 month to 24 months after transplantation was significantly greater in those on QOD dosing (+0.5 +/- 0.06) than in those on QD dosing (+0.1 +/- 0.03). Using multiple regression analyses, better growth was associated with QOD dosing, recipient age less than 13 years, lower total steroid dose over 48 hr, and lower serum creatinine (all P < 0.001). Graft survival did not differ on the basis of the steroid dosing pattern. In a proportional hazards model for survival of living donor grafts after 12 months, graft survival was negatively associated with the use of QD dosing, black race, rejection episodes in the first year, and a higher serum creatinine at 12 months. The survival of cadaver grafts was negatively associated with the use of QD steroid dosing, recipient age less than 2 years, rejection episodes in the first year, and a higher serum creatinine at 12 months. In addition, the decline in graft function did not differ between those on QOD steroid therapy and those on QD therapy. We conclude that selected pediatric renal transplant recipients receiving QOD dosing have better growth than those receiving QD dosing without compromising allograft survival or function.