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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Risk factors for acute kidney injury following orthotopic liver transplantation: the impact of changes in renal function while patients await transplantation

Jose I Iglesias12*, John A DePalma3 and Jerrold S Levine45

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine subsection of Nephrology, UMDNJ School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford, NJ, 08084, USA

2 Department of Medicine subsection Nephrology, Jersey Shore University Medical Center and Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine New Brunswick, NJ, USA

3 Nephrology Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center Department of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, 27106, USA

4 University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, 60612, USA

5 Section of Nephrology, Dept. of Medicine, Jesse Brown Veterans Administration Hospital, Chicago, IL, 60612, USA

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BMC Nephrology 2010, 11:30  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-11-30

Published: 8 November 2010



Acute kidney injury (AKI) occurs commonly in the setting of orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). To date, the correlation between AKI post-OLT and pre-operative changes in renal function has not been rigorously examined.


To determine the impact of pre-OLT changes in renal function on AKI post-OLT, as well as to identify risk factors for AKI, we analyzed the prospectively maintained NIDDK Liver Transplantation Database, which includes patients who received their first OLT between April 15, 1990, and June 30, 1994. We used the AKI Network definition of AKI.


Surprisingly, univariate analysis revealed that worsening renal function while awaiting OLT was protective to the development of AKI post-OLT. Independent predictors of AKI were increased body mass index, increased Childs-Pugh-Turcott score, decreased urine output during cross-clamp, improved renal function while awaiting OLT, increased post-operative stroke volume, non-Caucasian race, and post-operative use of tacrolimus.


The correlation between improving renal function pre-OLT and AKI post-OLT may represent true protection (via ischemic pre-conditioning) or, alternatively, a masking of milder forms of AKI (via improved renal perfusion through correction of the cirrhotic milieu). These results highlight the complex interaction between liver and kidney disease, and suggest that not only the etiology but also the course of pre-OLT renal dysfunction may be a critical determinant of renal function post-OLT.