A randomized study comparing three cyclosporine-based regimens in cadaveric renal transplantation

Claudio Ponticelli, Antonio Tarantino, Giuseppe P. Segoloni, Vincenzo Cambi, Gaetano Rizzo, Paolo Altieri, Francesco Mastrangelo, Marco Castagneto, Maurizio Salvadori, Umberto Valente, Maria Cossu, Stefano Federico, Francesco Pisani, Giuseppe Montagnino, Maria Messina, Luca Arisi, Mario Carmellini, Gianbenedetto Piredda, Giuseppe Corbetta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Whether it is better to treat renal transplant patients with cyclosporine alone, combined with steroids, or combined with steroids and azathioprine is still unclear. After initial therapy with cyclosporine and steroids, 354 cadaver renal transplant recipients were randomly assigned at the post-transplant day 5 to cyclosporine alone (monotherapy), cyclosporine plus steroids (double therapy), or cyclosporine plus steroids plus azathioprine (triple therapy). Monotherapy patients, after a second acute rejection, were switched to either of the two alternative therapies. According to intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis, the 4-year patient survival was 97% in monotherapy, 91% in double therapy, and 96% in triple therapy; the graft survival including death was 84%, 77%, and 88%, respectively; and the pure graft survival was 87%, 85% and 91%, respectively (P = not significant). Acute rejections were diagnosed in 79 patients in monotherapy, 58 in double therapy, and 59 in triple therapy (P <0.01). Of the patients on monotherapy, 52% were switched to double or triple therapy. In these patients, the 4-year graft survival including death was 68%, and the pure graft survival was 72%, in comparison with 93% and 94%, respectively, for patients who continued on cyclosporine alone. Patients with renal polycystic disease as a cause of renal failure and with low plasma creatinine at the time of randomization (5 days after transplant) had a higher probability of remaining on monotherapy, whereas those with glomerulonephritis or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and with high plasma creatinine levels at randomisation had a higher probability of being switched to double or triple therapy. According to ITT analysis, there were fewer ocular (P <0.0001), osteomuscular (P <0.002) and cardiovascular complications (P = 0.05) and fewer patients with hypercholesterolemia (P <0.0028) in the monotherapy group, with no difference between double and triple therapy. Creatinine clearance at 3 years was lower in monotherapy, but no attrition of renal function was seen over the years in any of the groups. Cyclosporine, however used, provided good results in cadaveric renal transplantation. Triple therapy and monotherapy offered a nonsignificantly better patient and graft survival than double therapy. Patients on monotherapy had a higher risk of acute rejection but had fewer adverse events than those on double or triple therapy. Patients maintained on cyclosporine alone had the best graft survival, whereas those who were assigned to monotherapy and had to add steroids because of multiple rejections had the worst outcome. Therefore, it seems reasonable to limit the choice of monotherapy to patients without immune-mediated renal diseases and with good graft function in the early posttransplant period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-646
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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