Early outcomes for low-risk pediatric heart transplant recipients and steroid avoidance: A multicenter cohort study (Clinical Trials in Organ Transplantation in Children - CTOTC-04)

for the CTOTC-04 investigators

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BACKGROUND: Immunosuppression strategies have changed over time in pediatric heart transplantation. Thus, comorbidity profiles may have evolved. Clinical Trials in Organ Transplantation in Children-04 is a multicenter, prospective, cohort study assessing the impact of pre-transplant sensitization on outcomes after pediatric heart transplantation. This sub-study reports 1-year outcomes among recipients without pre-transplant donor-specific antibodies (DSAs). METHODS: We recruited consecutive candidates (<21 years) at 8 centers. Sensitization status was determined by a core laboratory. Immunosuppression was standardized as follows: Thymoglobulin induction with tacrolimus and/or mycophenolate mofetil maintenance. Steroids were not used beyond 1 week. Rejection surveillance was by serial biopsy. RESULTS: There were 240 transplants. Subjects for this sub-study (n = 186) were non-sensitized (n = 108) or had no DSAs (n = 78). Median age was 6 years, 48.4% were male, and 38.2% had congenital heart disease. Patient survival was 94.5% (95% confidence interval, 90.1–97.0%). Freedom from any type of rejection was 67.5%. Risk factors for rejection were older age at transplant and presence of non-DSAs pre-transplant. Freedom from infection requiring hospitalization/intravenous anti-microbials was 75.4%. Freedom from rehospitalization was 40.3%. New-onset diabetes mellitus and post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) occurred in 1.6% and 1.1% of subjects, respectively. There was no decline in renal function over the first year. Corticosteroids were used in 14.5% at 1 year. CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric heart transplantation recipients without DSAs at transplant and managed with a steroid avoidance regimen have excellent short-term survival and a low risk of first-year diabetes mellitus and PTLD. Rehospitalization remains common. These contemporary observations allow for improved caregiver and/or patient counseling and provide the necessary outcomes data to help design future randomized controlled trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)972-981
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2019



  • immunosuppression
  • outcomes
  • pediatric heart transplant
  • rejection
  • steroid avoidance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Transplantation

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