International Urology and Nephrology

, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 771–777 | Cite as

Impact of low-dose steroids on HbA1c levels and development of pre-diabetes and NODAT in non-diabetic renal transplant recipients on long-term follow-up

  • F. P. Tillmann
  • M. Schmitz
  • L. C. Rump
  • I. Quack
Nephrology - Original Paper



This study aimed to evaluate the impact of 5 mg of prednisolone/day on HbA1c levels and its association with the development of pre-diabetes and new-onset diabetes mellitus (NODAT) in non-diabetic first renal transplant recipients on long-term follow-up.


Four hundred patients were analysed on an average of 4.1 ± 3.0 years after successful transplantation: 96 (24%) were steroid-free and 304 (76%) treated with 5 mg of prednisolone/day combined with cyclosporine A (CsA) or tacrolimus (Tac) as part of their immunosuppressive protocol. Pre-diabetes and NODAT were defined based on the HbA1c levels according to the current ADA guidelines. The Mann–Whitney U test and the Chi-square test were used to determine intergroup differences. Multivariate logistic regression analyses (adjusted for steroid-free versus 5 mg of prednisolone per day, body mass index (BMI), number of HLA mismatches, eGFR according to the CKD-EPI formula, sex, negative vs. positive PRA titre, CMV and HCV positivity of the recipient, CsA vs. Tac immunosuppressive medication, dialysis vintage (years), age at the last follow-up and time from transplantation to the last follow-up) were performed to identify an independent effect of low-dose steroids on the evolution of pre-diabetes and NODAT.


A small but statistically significant difference in HbA1c levels was observed between the control and the steroid groups (5.56 ± 0.54 vs. 5.67 ± 0.0.45%, p = 0.045). The incidence rates of pre-diabetes and NODAT per 100 patients per year were 9.3 and 3.0, respectively. Regression analysis showed that low-dose steroids (p = 0.026, risk ratio (RR) 1.789, 95%; confidence interval (CI) 1.007–3.040) and age (p = 0.000, RR 1.037/year, 95% CI 1.018–1.057) were associated with pre-diabetes, whereas BMI (p = 0.000, RR 1.190, 95% CI 1.084–1.307), age (p = 0.000, RR 1.087/year, 95% CI 1.047–1.129) and Tac use (p = 0.010, RR 3.300, 95% CI 1.328–8.196) were associated with NODAT.


Using 5 mg of prednisolone/day was associated with increased HbA1c levels and an increased risk in developing pre-diabetes, but not NODAT, whereas BMI, age and the use of tacrolimus were associated with an increased risk in developing NODAT.


Renal transplantation Steroids Pre-diabetes NODAT Ageing HbA1c 


Author’s contributions

FPT designed the study, performed the statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript. IQ performed the data acquisition, conceived the study and helped in drafting the manuscript. LCR conceived the study, participated in its design and coordination and helped in drafting the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Klinik für NephrologieHeinrich Heine Universität DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany
  2. 2.Klinik für Nephrologie und allgemeine innere Medizinstädtisches Klinikum SolingenSolingenGermany

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