Those who immediately stop taking the steroid prednisone after a kidney transplant are more likely to avoid harmful side effects, according to a study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology.

The steroid prednisone has been typically used by most kidney transplant patients, in order to keep their bodies from rejecting the new organ. The drug also causes harmful side effects, such as, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cataracts, bone loss, increased bone fractures, mood swings, and in children, growth retardation.

These severe side effects has caused scientists to re-examine if other drugs can be used for a kidney transplant, other than prednisone.

Dr. Authur Matas, of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and his research team ran a ten year study that followed 1,241 kidney transplant recipients on a treatment structure that entailed an abrupt stop in using prednisone for treatment.

Participants for the study consisted of 791 patients who received their kidneys from live donors, and 450 patients who received kidneys from deceased donors. Some of the findings are as follows:

71 percent of patients who received kidneys from living donors and 62 percent of those who received kidneys from deceased donors survived.

Additionally, 61 percent of kidneys from living donors and 51 percent of kidneys from deceased donors survived.

Early organ rejection rates were 25 percent for living donor patients, and 31 percent for those patients receiving a kidney from a deceased donor. Chronic organ rejection rates were 39 percent and 47 percent respectively for deceased and living donor patients.

The incidence rates of new-onset diabetes and several other complication were significantly lower than rates typically seen in transplant patients on prednisone.

Overall results of the study showed no significant difference in kidney survival rates among transplant recipients who quickly stopped taking prednisone, and patients being able to avoid serious side-effects is also a crucial adage.

The study also found ceasing to use the immunosuppressive drug, will not harm the recovery or the bodies acceptance of a new kidney.

“Because prednisone use is associated with numerous side effects, transplant recipients say it is the drug they would most like to avoid. Our data suggest that long term prednisone may not be necessary after a kidney transplant,” said D. Matas. “About 30 percent of new kidney transplants in the United States are now done with a protocol similar to ours.”