The proportion of living donor kidney transplants from donors unrelated to their recipients is increasing in the US.
To examine the association between donor-recipient biological relationship and allograft survival after living donor kidney transplant.
This retrospective cohort study used Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network data on US adult living donor kidney transplants (n = 86 154) performed from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2014, excluding cases in which recipients previously received a kidney transplant (n = 10 342) or key data were missing (n = 2832). Last follow-up was March 20, 2020.
Donor-recipient biological relationship.
The primary outcome was death-censored allograft failure. Univariate and multivariable time-to-event analyses were performed for death-censored allograft failure for the overall cohort, then separately for recipients with and without primary diagnoses of cystic kidney disease and for transplants from African American and non-African American donors.
Among the 72 980 transplant donor and recipients included in the study (median donor age, 41 years; interquartile range [IQR], 32-50 years; 43 990 [60%] female; 50 014 [69%] White), 43 174 (59%) donors and recipients were biologically related and 29 806 (41%) were unrelated. Donors related to their recipients were younger (median [IQR] age, 39 [31-48] vs 44 [35-52] years) and less likely to be female (24 848 [58%] vs 19 142 [64%]) or White (26 933 [62%] vs 23 081 [77%]). Recipients related to their donors were younger (median [IQR] age, 48 [34-58] vs 50 [40-58] years), more likely to be female (18 035 [42%] vs 10 530 [35%]), and less likely to have cystic kidney disease (2530 [6%] vs 4600 [15%]). Related pairs had fewer HLA mismatches overall (median [IQR], 3 [2-3] vs 5 [4-5]). After adjustment for HLA mismatches, donor and recipient characteristics, and transplant era, donor-recipient biological relationship was associated with higher death-censored allograft failure (hazard ratio, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.01-1.10; P = .03). When stratified by primary disease, this association persisted only for recipients without cystic kidney disease. When stratified by donor race, this association persisted only for transplants from African American donors.
In this cohort study, living donor kidney transplants from donors biologically related to their recipients had higher rates of allograft failure than transplants from donors unrelated to their recipients after HLA matching was accounted for. Further study is needed to determine which genetic or socioenvironmental factors are associated with this finding.