Association of Ambient Fine Particulate Matter Air Pollution with Kidney Transplant Outcomes

Su Hsin Chang, Massini Merzkani, Haris Murad, Mei Wang, Benjamin Bowe, Krista L. Lentine, Ziyad Al-Aly, Tarek Alhamad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Importance: Increased levels of ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution are associated with increased risks for detrimental health outcomes, but risks for patients with kidney transplants (KTs) remain unknown. Objective: To investigate the association of PM2.5exposure with KT outcomes. Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective cohort study was conducted using data on patients who received KTs from 2004 to 2016 who were identified in the national US transplant registry and followed up through March 2021. Multiple databases were linked to obtain data on PM2.5concentration, KT outcomes, and patient clinical, transplant, and contextual factors. Data were analyzed from April 2020 through July 2021. Exposures: Exposures included post-KT time-dependent annual mean PM2.5level (in 10 μg/m3) and mean PM2.5level in the year before KT (ie, baseline levels) in quartiles, as well as baseline annual mean PM2.5level (in 10 μg/m3). Main Outcomes and Measures: Acute kidney rejection (ie, rejection within 1 year after KT), time to death-censored graft failure, and time to all-cause death. Multivariable logistic regression for kidney rejection and Cox analyses with nonlinear assessment of exposure-response for death-censored graft failure and all-cause death were performed. The national burden of graft failure associated with PM2.5levels greater than the Environmental Protection Agency recommended level of 12 μg/m3was estimated. Results: Among 112098 patients with KTs, 70522 individuals (62.9%) were older than age 50 years at the time of KT, 68117 (60.8%) were men, and the median (IQR) follow-up was 6.0 (3.9-8.9) years. There were 37265 Black patients (33.2%), 17047 Hispanic patients (15.2%), 48581 White patients [43.3%]), and 9205 patients (8.2%) of other race or ethnicity. The median (IQR) baseline PM2.5level was 9.8 (8.3-11.9) μg/m3. Increased baseline PM2.5level, compared with quartile 1 baseline PM2.5level, was not associated with higher odds of acute kidney rejection for quartile 2 (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.99; 95% CI, 0.92-1.06) but was associated with increased odds for quartile 3 (aOR, 1.11; 95% CI, 1.04-1.20) and quartile 4 (aOR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.05-1.23). Nonlinear assessment of exposure-response for graft failure and death showed no evidence for nonlinearity. Increased PM2.5levels were associated with increased risk of death-censored graft failure (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] per 10 μg/m3increase, 1.17; 95% CI, 1.09-1.25) and all-cause death (aHR per 10 μg/m3 increase, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.14-1.28). The national burden of death-censored graft failure associated with PM2.5above 12 μg/m3was 57 failures (95% uncertainty interval, 48-67 failures) per year among patients with KTs. Conclusions and Relevance: This cohort study found that PM2.5level was an independent risk factor associated with acute rejection, graft failure, and death among patients with KTs. These findings suggest that efforts toward decreasing levels of PM2.5concentration may be associated with improved outcomes after KT.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28190
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 7 2021


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