Spontaneous survival rates in acute liver failure (ALF) are vastly improved by liver transplantation (LT). However, the value of induction agents beyond steroids continues to be debated. To understand the potential benefit of different induction regimens in the ALF population, we compared overall survival of recipients undergoing LT in the United States for ALF. Using the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, we assessed the impact of induction immunosuppression (IS) in a cohort of 3754 first-time LT recipients with a diagnosis of ALF from 2002 to 2018. Induction IS therapy was grouped into steroid-only induction, use of antithymocyte globulin (ATG), or interleukin 2 receptor antibody. Other regimens were excluded from analysis. Survival analysis was estimated via Cox proportional hazards models and expressed as hazard ratios (HRs). In LT for ALF, the use of induction agents beyond steroids is increasingly frequent over the last 2 decades. The use of ATG is associated with worse overall survival, even after adjusting for donor and recipient factors, with HR of 1.24 (95% confidence interval, 1.00-1.53; P = 0.05). An elevated serum creatinine, recipient and donor age, and Black ethnicity, were all associated with reduced survival, whereas maintenance IS with calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs) was associated with improved survival. Although adjunct induction therapy has become more common, our analysis shows that compared with a steroid-only induction regimen, the addition of ATG is associated with worse overall survival after LT for ALF. CNI maintenance was highly protective, suggesting that an IS strategy focusing on corticosteroid-only induction followed by CNI maintenance may offer the best overall survival rate.
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