A new study on early steroid withdrawal following liver transplantation found that there was a higher incidence of rejection and a lower incidence of glucose intolerance necessitating treatment for diabetes. It was the first double-blind placebo-controlled study to examine the effects of early steroid elimination.
The results of this study appear in the December 2004 issue of Liver Transplantation, the official journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) and the International Liver Transplantation Society (ILTS). The journal is published on behalf of the societies by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and is available online via Wiley InterScience.
The normal course of treatment after liver transplantation includes calcineurin inhibitors (a class of immunosuppressants) and steroids to minimize rejection and improve survival rates, but the long-term complications of these drugs can be fatal. Steroid use in particular can lead to diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension, which increase the risk of heart disease, and can lead to death. Several previous studies have reported that early withdrawal from steroids reduced the incidence of these side effects, but that rejection increased, although it could be controlled with steroid pulse therapy (in which high doses of steroids are administered intravenously for a short period of time). The current multicenter study was the first prospective double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to compare early steroid withdrawal with continued use.
David Greenberg | EurekAlert!
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