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Healthy Body Weights With Corticosteroid-free Immunosuppression Is the Best Predictor of Cardiovascular Health in Children After Liver Transplantation

Mager, Diana R.*,†; Hager, Amber*; Siminoski, Kerry; Yap, Jason K.†,§; Gilmour, Susan M.†,§

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: May 2019 - Volume 68 - Issue 5 - p 713–719
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000002271
Original Articles: Hepatology

Introduction: Cardiometabolic dysregulation (CMD) influences morbidity and mortality risk in adults post-liver transplantation (LTx). CMD is reported in 10% to 25% of pediatric LTx recipients, but no information regarding the longitudinal expression of CMD is available. The study objective was to examine the longitudinal expression of CMD and associations with body composition and growth in children post-LTx.

Methods: A retrospective review was conducted in youth (34 F/30 M) who underwent LTx between 1994 and 2015 at the Stollery Children's Hospital. Primary outcomes included serum markers of CMD (insulin, glucose, hemoglobin A1C [A1C], homeostasis model assessment for insulin resistance [abnormal >3], lipid panel triglycerides, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol) and systolic/diastolic blood pressure (BP: absolute/z scores).

Results: Mean (±SD) age, weight z, height z, body mass index z was 9.7 ± 3.4 years (3.5–17.9), 0.26 ± 1.03, 0.017 ± 1.2, and 0.41 ± 1.05, respectively. The majority of children had percentage fat mass, percentage fat-free mass within normal reference ranges. Systolic/diastolic BP was within healthy references ranges in 83.1% and 93.5% of children, respectively. Serum insulin (83.4%) and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (43.9%) concentrations were low, with abnormal findings of other laboratory markers found in <5% of participants. Abnormal findings for metabolic parameters were independent of weight z, body mass index z, fat mass, and corticosteroids but were positively related to child's age (>9.7 years) and fat-free mass (total, arms). Insulin levels decreased significantly in the first 4 years post-LTx, but no changes in lipid panel, A1C and glucose were noted over 10 years.

Conclusions: Pediatric LTx recipients with healthy body weights and corticosteroid-free immunosuppression have a low expression of CMD over 10 years.

*Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Sciences

Department of Pediatrics

Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging, University of Alberta

§Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition/Transplant Services, The Stollery Children's Hospital, Alberta Health Services, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr Diana R. Mager, PhD, MSc, RD, Associate Professor, Clinical Nutrition, Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Sciences, 2-021D Li Ka Shing Centre for Research Innovation, Clinical Research Unit, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 0K2 (e-mail:

Received 3 July, 2018

Accepted 18 December, 2018

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The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2019 by European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology,