Triple-drug immunosuppression with steroid discontinuation by six months after heart transplantation

M. T. Olivari, Michael E Jessen, Brian J Baldwin, V. P H Horn, C. W. Yancy, W Steves Ring, R. L. Rosenblatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background: Triple-drug immunosuppression with cyclosporine, azathioprine, and prednisone is associated with complications which might be reduced by steroid withdrawal. Methods: In two groups of heart transplant recipients maintained on an identical regimen of cyclosporine and azathioprine, prednisone was withdrawn in group I patients (n = 35) by 6 months after transplantation, whereas in group II patients (n = 49) prednisone was never discontinued. Results: Survival was similar in the two groups. The incidence of acute graft rejection was significantly higher in group I (54%) than in group II (12%), whereas infective complications were significantly lower in group I than in group II (0.63 versus 1.02 episode/patient). The degree of posttransplantation weight gain, lipid abnormalities, and incidence of hypertension were not modified by the fast tapering of prednisone, whereas the incidence of cataract and compression fracture and the degree of bone loss were significantly reduced in group I. Graft function and incidence of coronary artery disease were similar in the two groups. Conclusions: The present data suggest that prednisone can be safely withdrawn in heart transplant recipients without jeopardizing survival and graft function. Longer follow-up is needed to assess the full impact of early withdrawal of steroids from triple-drug immunosuppression, especially on long-term graft function and incidence of coronary artery disease. Benefits of early steroid withdrawal included a reduction in bone loss, which might ultimately have a major positive impact on the extent of long-term rehabilitation and exercise tolerance after heart transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-135
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Transplantation


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