Survival After Kidney Transplantation Lags in Diabetes Patients

Mitchel L. Zoler, PhD

September 23, 2020

Survival of U.S. patients who received a kidney transplant improved during 2000-2018, but the extent of improvement among patients whose end-stage kidney disease linked with diabetes lagged behind patients with renal disease unrelated to diabetes, based on a review of more than 250,000 U.S. renal transplant recipients from that period.

After adjustment for several demographic and clinical baseline differences, as well as for several characteristics of the organ donor, the analysis showed that patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) had a significant 64% higher mortality rate following kidney transplant compared with patients without diabetes, while patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D) had a significant 94% increased relative rate of death, Jessica Harding, PhD, said at the virtual annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

The analyses that Dr. Harding reported also showed that, throughout the period examined, mortality rates following kidney transplant remained several times greater than the death rate of similar Americans who did not undergo renal replacement. By 2017, the standardized mortality ratio for patients with T2D following a kidney transplant was roughly fourfold greater than in similarly aged Americans in the general population who did undergo a transplant, while for patients with T1D the standardized mortality ratio compared with the general population was about sevenfold higher.

"Important disparities" for survival following kidney transplantation based on a specific diabetes etiology exist among U.S. patients, and further research should examine ways to better reduce posttransplant mortality in patients with diabetes, especially those with T1D, concluded Dr. Harding, an epidemiologist in the division of transplantation, department of surgery, at Emory University, Atlanta.

Issues surrounding kidney transplantation and postsurgical survival among patients with diabetes are important because these patients remain very susceptible to developing end-stage kidney disease and need for renal replacement. Adequate management of hyperglycemia, hypertension, and the adverse cardiovascular effects of immunosuppressive drugs might provide effective strategies for further mortality reductions among patients with diabetes following kidney transplant, she suggested.

The study used data collected in the United States Renal Data System during January 2000–August 2018, and included 258,188 adults who underwent a first-time, single kidney transplant at a U.S. center. About 20,000 patients had T1D (8%), about 59,000 (23%) had T2D, and the remaining 69% had no diabetes diagnosis. The data allowed for survival monitoring during a median follow-up of just over 6 years, during which more than 72,000 of the tracked patients (28%) died. The Renal Data System entries for 2017 also showed that 47% of U.S. patients with new end-stage renal disease had a diabetes etiology, Dr. Harding said.

The study received no commercial funding. Dr. Harding had no disclosures.

SOURCE: Harding J. EASD 2020. Oral presentation 66.

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