Effect of corticosteroid administration on neurologically deceased organ donors and transplant recipients: a systematic review and meta-analysis Academic Article uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVES: This review investigates the impact of corticosteroids on donation rates and transplant outcomes in light of findings from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and to highlight the sources of uncertainty in this unresolved donor management issue. DATA SOURCES: We searched electronic databases, trial registries and conference proceedings for RCTs evaluating corticosteroid therapy in neurologically deceased donors. STUDY SELECTION AND DATA EXTRACTION: Independent reviewers assessed eligibility, evaluated risk of bias and abstracted data, including donor haemodynamic data, number of organs recovered and transplant outcomes. Where possible, we pooled results. For each outcome, we assessed the overall quality of evidence using The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) methodology. DATA SYNTHESIS: Eleven RCTs with different corticosteroid regimens were included. Most trials assessed a once-daily infusion of methylprednisolone. Aside from one study showing improved liver graft function, no individual study or pooled analysis showed benefit of corticosteroids for any outcome: vasopressor use (three trials; relative risk (RR) 0.96; 95% CI 0.89 to 1.05), multiple organs recovered (two trials; RR 0.82; 95% CI 0.61 to 1.11), acute graft rejection (three trials; RR 0.91; 95% CI 0.60 to 1.39) or graft dysfunction (eight trials; RR 1.01; 95% CI 0.83 to 1.24). Two trials investigated adverse effects and found similar rates between groups. Quality of evidence was moderate or low for all outcomes. CONCLUSION: Current clinical trials are limited in numbers and size to identify benefits or harms of corticosteroid therapy for deceased organ donors. In the face of these results, administering or withholding steroids both appear reasonable courses of action.


  • D'Aragon, Frédérick
  • Belley-Cote, Emilie
  • Agarwal, Arnav
  • Frenette, Anne-Julie
  • Lamontagne, Francois
  • Guyatt, Gordon
  • Dhanani, Sonny
  • Meade, Maureen

publication date

  • June 2017