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Background: Despite earlier studies describing the feasibility of steroid weaning in heart transplant patients, the majority of patients are maintained on steroid therapy for life. We examined a strategy based on a single morning serum cortisol measurement.

Methods: We assigned stable posttransplant patients, who were maintained on tacrolimus, mycophenolate mofetil, and corticosteroids, into one of two groups based on a screening morning cortisol level. Patients with a cortisol < 8 micrograms/deciliter were assigned to a "maintenance" group and the others were assigned to the weaning group and steroids were tapered off over 4-6 weeks. Patients were monitored on subsequent office visits for adrenal insufficiency and allograft rejection.

Results: Thirty-one patients were enrolled (6 patients in the maintenance group and 25 in the steroid-weaning group). Mean follow-up was 10.2 ± 4 years for the weaning group and 9.0 ± 4.9 years in the maintenance group (p = 0.6). No cases of rejection were noted, nor did any patient resume steroid treatment following discontinuation.

Conclusion: Steroids can be safely discontinued in stable heart transplant patients with an AM serum cortisol ≥ 8 micrograms/deciliter with appropriate outpatient follow-up. In this study, no patient suffered late rejection or clinically noted adrenal insufficiency.

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Originally published in the Journal of Transplantation, 2018 [Article 3740395]. The original material can be found here.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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