Chronic rejection: The next major challenge for pancreas transplant recipients

Abhinav Humar, Khalid Khwaja, Thiagarajan Ramcharan, Massimo Asolati, Raja Kandaswamy, Rainer W.G. Gruessner, David E.R. Sutherland, Angelika C. Gruessner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Objective. With newer immunosuppressive agents, acute rejection and graft loss resulting from acute rejection have become less common for pancreas transplant recipients. As long-term graft survival rates have improved, an increasing number of grafts are being lost to chronic rejection (CR). We studied the incidence of CR and identified risk factors. Methods. We retrospectively analyzed all cadaver pancreas transplants performed at the University of Minnesota between June 19, 1994, and December 31, 2002. We determined the causes of graft loss, the incidence of graft loss to CR and, using multivariate techniques, the major risk factors for CR. Results. A total of 914 cadaver pancreas transplants were performed in the following three categories: simultaneous pancreas-kidney (SPK) (n=321), pancreas after kidney (PAK) (n=389), and pancreas transplant alone (PTA) (n=204). The mean recipient age was 41.3 years and the mean donor age was 30.1 years. Of the 914 pancreas grafts, 643 (70.3%) continue to function (mean length of follow-up, 39 months). The most common cause of graft loss was technical failure, accounting for 118 (12.9%) of the failed grafts. The second most common cause was CR, accounting for 80 (8.8%) of the failed grafts. The incidence of graft loss to CR was highest for PTA (n=23 [11.3%]) and PAK (n=45 [11.6%]) recipients and lowest for SPK recipients (n=12 [3.7%]) (P=0.002). By multivariate analysis, the most significant risk factors for graft loss to CR were a previous episode of acute rejection (relative risk [RR]=4.41, P<0.0001), an isolated (vs. simultaneous) transplant (PAK or PTA [vs. SPK], RR=3.02, P=0.002), cytomegalovirus infection posttransplant (RR=2.41, P=0.001), a retransplant (versus primary transplant) (RR=2.27, P=0.004), and one or two (vs. zero) antigen mismatches at the B loci (RR=1.68, P=0.04). Conclusions. As short-term pancreas transplant results improve and as isolated (PAK or PTA) pancreas transplants gain in popularity, CR will become increasingly common as a cause of pancreas graft loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)918-923
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 27 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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