Renal function is an important predictor of liver transplantation (LT) outcome. This study examines the change in glomerular filtration rate (GFR, mL/min per m2) in the first year after LT, with subgroup analysis by baseline GFR, model for end-stage liver disease (MELD), age, sex, race, and diabetes/hypertension. Methods The records of 1275 consecutive deceased donor, liver, and liver/kidney transplants were reviewed retrospectively, with the liver/kidney data analyzed separately. Glomerular filtration rate was calculated using the modification of diet in renal disease equation. Results Among liver only patients, 25% had GFR less than 60 (mL/min per 1.73 m2) at LT, and this increased to 39% at 1 year. There were 42% of patients with normal renal function (GFR > 90) at baseline, and this decreased to 18% at 1 year. Only patient subgroups with MELD > 25 experienced any 1-year improvement in GFR, whereas all lower MELD groups experienced a significant decline in GFR. At 1 year after transplantation, there were 42% of recipients that had an absolute GFR decrease greater than 20 mL/min per 1.73 m2, and 39% that decreased greater than 25% from their transplant baseline. Only 22% had an absolute improvement in GFR greater than 5 mL/min per 1.73 m2. Conclusions Sixty-four percent of liver transplant recipients overall experience a decrease in GFR 1 year after transplantation. Recipients with severe kidney disease at transplant (GFR < 30) are the group most likely to experience improvement in GFR after transplantation. However, at 1 year, as a group, they remain at GFR less than 60 (stage III chronic kidney disease). These results suggest that severe renal dysfunction may be marginally reversible after LT, but only 22% of the recipients in this cohort experienced any post-LT improvement in renal function.
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