The optimal reduction of immunosuppressive therapy (IST) in renal transplant patients with post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLDs) is uncertain. As chemotherapy is immunosuppressive, IST may be stopped during this time without compromising graft function. Subsequent long-term reduction of IST reduces relapse risk, but may increase risk of graft rejection.
We performed a retrospective, matched cohort study of adult renal transplant patients in whom IST was ceased during chemotherapy and resumed at lower dose (calcineurin inhibitor at 50%, prednisolone ≤10 mg daily, no third agent) approximately 6 weeks after chemotherapy. Outcomes were compared with those of renal transplant patients without PTLD, matched for creatinine at equivalent time post-transplant that PTLD was diagnosed in cases, as well as for age, gender and year of transplant.
Twenty-four cases of PTLD occurring at a median of 9.2 years post-transplant were compared with 83 matched controls. PTLD cases were followed for a median of 11.9 years. Using competing risks analysis, time to 25% increase in serum creatinine was not significantly different between the two groups [adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 1.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.89-3.6]. Similar results were obtained using multivariable Cox regression analysis (HR 1.19, 95% CI 0.44-3.23). Only one PTLD case experienced a ≥25% increase in creatinine <6 months after IST cessation in the setting of progressive PTLD and death. Three cases recommenced dialysis, compared with three controls (HR 2.5, 95% CI 0.47-13.00). Five-year patient survival rates for cases and controls were 70 and 94%, respectively (P = 0.01).
IST can be safely ceased during chemotherapy for PTLD in renal transplant patients. Furthermore, long-term reduction in IST is not associated with a significant difference in renal function deterioration. Prospective trials are needed to address the optimal reduction of IST in PTLDs.