Renal transplantation 2004: Where do we stand today?

Claudio Ponticelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In spite of considerable progress in immunosuppressive and supportive treatment, numerous problems persist which interfere with the success of renal transplantation. Before transplantation has been performed, factors impacting on outcome include the donor (living vs cadaver, age and HLA system) as well as the recipient (age, immunological reactivity, potential sensitization and duration of dialysis). These are the main factors that affect the outcome of the transplant, particularly in the long-term. After transplantation a number of events may put graft function at risk: potential recurrence of the primary renal disease in the allograft; 'de novo' renal disease triggered by infections, drugs or autoimmunity; and non-specific progression promoters, such as diabetes, hypertension, proteinuria, nephrotoxic agents and/or viral infections. The two most frequent causes of chronic allograft dysfunction are (i) chronic rejection (often triggered by preceding acute rejection, delayed graft function or poor compliance) and (ii) calcineurin-inhibitor nephrotoxicity (more likely to develop in kidneys of older donors or in marginal kidneys). The differential diagnosis between these two entities is generally difficult, but some histological clues (reduplication of glomerular basement membrane, obliterating vasculopathy and C4d deposits) as well as the demonstration of humoral antibodies are pointers suggesting rejection. Treatment of chronic graft dysfunction is difficult, whatever the cause, particularly in cases with advanced renal lesions. Therefore, early diagnosis is of paramount importance. In this regard, graft biopsy can be of great help. In spite of many problems and complications, not only short-term but also long-term results of renal transplantation are improving progressively, as documented by CTS data showing that in Europe for transplants performed between 1982 and 1984 the mean graft half-life was 7 years, while for transplants performed between 1997 and 1999 it was 20 years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2937-2947
Number of pages11
JournalNephrology Dialysis Transplantation
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004


  • Calcineurin inhibitors
  • Chronic allograft nephropathy
  • Chronic rejection
  • Recurrent disease
  • Renal transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology
  • Transplantation


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