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HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors in kidney transplant recipients receiving tacrolimus: statins not associated with improved patient or graft survival

Nizar Younas1, Christine M Wu1*, Ron Shapiro2, Jerry McCauley12, James Johnston1, Henkie Tan2, Amit Basu2, Heidi Schaefer3, Cynthia Smetanka2, Wolfgang C Winkelmayer4 and Mark Unruh1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, Renal-Electrolyte Division, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

2 Department of Surgery, Starzl Transplantation Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

3 Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

4 Division of Nephrology, Stanford University School of Medicine Palo Alto, CA USA

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BMC Nephrology 2010, 11:5  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-11-5

Published: 1 April 2010



The beneficial effects of early statin use in kidney transplant recipients, especially those on tacrolimus-based immunosuppression, are not well established. We evaluated the predictors of statin use following kidney transplantation and examined its association with patient and allograft survival.


We examined 615 consecutive patients who underwent kidney transplant at our institution between January 1998 and January 2002. Statin use was assessed at baseline and 3, 6, 9, and 12 months following kidney transplant. Patients were followed for allograft and patient survival.


36% of the 615 kidney transplant recipients were treated with statin treatment. Statin use increased over the course of the study period. Older age, elevated body mass index, higher triglyceride levels, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, history of myocardial infarction were associated with higher rates of statin use; elevated alkaline phosphatase levels and CMV IgG seropositivity were associated with less statin use. Older age, elevated BMI and hypercholesterolemia remained significant predictors of increased statin use after accounting for covariates using multiple regression. The early use of statins was not associated with improvements in unadjusted patient survival [HR 0.99; 95%CI 0.72-1.37] or graft survival [HR 0.97; 95% CI 0.76-1.24]. The risks of death and graft survival were not consistently reduced with exposure to statin using either adjusted models or propensity scores in Cox Proportional Hazards models.


In a kidney transplant population primarily receiving tacrolimus-based immunosuppression, early statin use was not associated with significantly improved graft or patient survival.