Incidence and risk factors for recurrent focal segmental glomerulosclerosis after kidney transplantation: a meta-analysis

Ren Fail. 2023 Dec;45(1):2201341 doi: 10.1080/0886022X.2023.2201341.

To systematically review the incidence and risk factors for recurrent FSGS after kidney transplantation.


We searched PubMed, Embase, Medline, Web of Science, the Cochrane Library, CNKI, CBMdisc, Wanfang, and Weipu for case-control studies related to recurrent FSGS from the establishment until October 2022. The protocol was registered on PROSPERO (CRD42022315448). Data were analyzed using Stata 12.0, with odds ratios (counting data) and standardized mean difference (continuous data) being considered as effect sizes. If the I2 value was greater than 50%, the random-effects model was used; otherwise, a fixed-effects model was used. A meta-analysis on the incidence and risk factors for recurrent FSGS after kidney transplantation was performed.


A total of 22 studies with 966 patients and 12 factors were included in the meta-analysis. There were 358 patients with recurrent FSGS and 608 patients without FSGS after kidney transplantation. The results showed that the recurrence rate of FSGS after kidney transplantation was 38% (95% CI: 31%-44%). Age at transplantation (SMD = -0.47, 95% CI -0.73 to -0.20, p = .001), age at onset (SMD = -0.31, 95% CI -0.54 to -0.08, p = .008), time from diagnosis to kidney failure (SMD = -0.24, 95% CI -0.43 to -0.04, p = .018), proteinuria before KT (SMD = 2.04, 95% CI 0.91 - 3.17, p < .001), related donor (OR 1.99, 95% CI 1.20 - 3.30, p = .007) and nephrectomy of native kidneys (OR 6.53, 95% CI 2.68 - 15.92, p < .001) were associated with recurrent FSGS, whereas HLA mismatches, duration of dialysis before KT, sex, living donor, tacrolimus use and previous transplantation were not associated with recurrent FSGS after kidney transplantation.


The recurrence of FSGS after kidney transplantation remains high. Clinical decision-making should warrant further consideration of these factors, including age, original disease progression, proteinuria, related donor, and nephrectomy of native kidneys.

CET Conclusion
Reviewer: Mr John O'Callaghan, Centre for Evidence in Transplantation, Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences University of Oxford
Conclusion: This is a well-conducted systematic review that searched multiple databases and included data from 966 renal transplant patients with FSGS (38% recurrence after transplantation). A review protocol was recorded in advance and the literature search and data extraction was completed in duplicate. Significant heterogeneity was identified between studies and was not explored by the authors with sensitivity analysis. This identified one study as a key source of heterogeneity, that was then later removed from statistical analysis. Publication bias was also checked statistically and was only present for one risk factor analysis (age at transplantation); correcting for this had no effect on the pooled estimate. In summary, this study showed that the overall recurrence risk of FSGS after renal transplantation is high. Age at transplant, age at onset, time from diagnosis to kidney failure, proteinuria prior to transplant, related donor and native nephrectomy were all associated with a higher risk of FSGS recurrence. Multiple other risk factors were examined and not found to be associated with risk of recurrence of FSGS: HLA mismatch, duration of dialysis, sex, living donor, tacrolimus and previous transplant.
Expert Review
Reviewer: Mr Simon Knight, Centre for Evidence in Transplantation, Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences University of Oxford
Clinical Impact Rating 3
Review: Whilst transplantation is the treatment of choice for renal failure due to focal segmental glomerular sclerosis (FSGS), it is one of the few indications for transplantation with a known risk of recurrent disease in the transplant kidney that can affect graft survival post-transplant. Treatments such as pre-emptive plasmapheresis with or without rituximab have been used to prevent or treat post-transplant recurrence, but the evidence for effectiveness is limited (1). A number of publications have attempted to correlate demographic and clinical features with risk of recurrence post-transplant. In a recent systematic review and meta-analysis, Bai and colleagues have attempted to summarise and synthesise this literature (2). They identified 22 studies with 966 patients, showing an overall rate of FSGS recurrence of 38%. Risk factors for recurrence were identified as younger age at transplant, older age of disease onset, shorter time from diagnosis to kidney failure, higher levels of proteinuria prior to transplant, a related living donor transplant and native nephrectomy. The review methodology was sound, with searches in multiple databases, multiple reviewers screening the literature and an evaluation of risk of bias. As might be expected when exploring retrospective cohort studies, there was heterogeneity seen in some outcomes, in particular age at transplant and pre-transplant proteinuria. Most underlying studies included in the meta-analysis explored risks in univariate analysis, without correction for confounding, and there is no way in meta-analysis to explore the interactions between risks. Limited data are available on the distinction between primary and secondary FSGS, and the impact of testing for genetic mutations and risk of recurrence (3). Despite the limitations, the review still provides a useful guide when assessing patients with FSGS for transplantation. The findings allow us to stratify risk of recurrence and set realistic expectations during the consent process. References 1. Boonpheng B, Hansrivijit P, Thongprayoon C et al. Rituximab or plasmapheresis for prevention of recurrent focal segmental glomerulosclerosis after kidney transplantation: A systematic review and meta-analysis. World Journal of Transplantation 2021; 11: 303. 2. Bai J, Zhang T, Wang Y et al. Incidence and risk factors for recurrent focal segmental glomerulosclerosis after kidney transplantation: a meta-analysis. Renal Failure 45: 2201341. 3. Uffing A, Hullekes F, Riella LV, Hogan JJ. Recurrent Glomerular Disease after Kidney Transplantation. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : CJASN 2021; 16: 1730
Study Details
Aims: This study aimed to investigate the incidence and risk factors associated with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) following kidney transplantation.
Interventions: A literature search was conducted on PubMed, Cochrane Library, Medline, Embase, Web of Science, CNKI, CBMdisc, Wanfang, and Weipu (VIP). Study selection and data extraction were performed by two independent authors. The methodological quality of the included studies were assessed using the Newcastle–Ottawa Scale (NOS).
Participants: 22 studies were included in the review.
Outcomes: FSGS recurrence rate posttransplantation and risk factors of FSGS.
Follow Up: N/A
Funding: No funding was received for this study
Publication type: Meta-Analysis, Systematic Review
Review registration: PROSPERO - CRD42022315448
Organ: Kidney
Language: English
Author email:
MeSH terms: Humans; Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental; Kidney Transplantation; Incidence; Risk Factors; Living Donors; Proteinuria; Recurrence