The use of cyclosporine (CsA) immediately after renal transplantation may be associated with an increased incidence and duration of acute tubular necrosis (ATN) and permanent primary graft nonfunction. To avoid this potential interaction we treated recipients of primary cadaveric grafts initially with azathioprine (AZA), methylprednisolone (MP), and 5 daily doses of Minnesota antilymphoblast globulin (MAG) (postoperative days 3-7). AZA was discontinued and CsA started on day 6 if the graft was functioning by then. If ATN persisted beyond day 6, AZA and MAG (maximum 12 doses) were continued and CsA withheld until graft function was established (group 1 - 33 patients). This protocol is compared to our previous regimen of MAG (14 doses over the first 3 weeks), AZA and MP (group 2 - 68 primary cadaveric graft recipients). Improved one-year graft survival (81% vs. 60%, P<0.05) and patient survival (93% vs. 81%, P<0.05) were seen in group 1. The incidence and duration of ATN did not differ in the two groups. During the first year after transplantation more patients in group 1 were completely free of rejection episodes (40% vs. 20%, P<0.05) and the number of rejection episodes per patient was also lower in this group (1.0±15 vs. 1.6±.49, P<0.05). The incidence of infections was not different in the two groups. No tumors have developed in either group. We conclude that in primary cadaveric renal transplantation the initial administration of a short course of MAG followed by CsA therapy results in excellent graft and patient survival while avoiding the potential adverse effect of CsA on an allograft already subjected to preservation injury.
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