November 26, 2018
3 min read

Marijuana use in kidney donors may have no effect on renal function in recipients

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No difference exists in renal function between marijuana-using kidney donors and non-marijuana using donors, according to recently published findings. Researchers also found no difference in postoperative kidney function between recipient groups based on marijuana use.

“If current trends persist into the future, then there will be a further increase in both recreational and medicinal marijuana use,” David Ruckle, MD, of Loma Linda University, and colleagues wrote. “For this reason, the growing population of marijuana users will become an even more significant segment of the potential living kidney donor pool. Subsequently, consideration of marijuana using kidney donors could increase the donor pool.”

Researchers retrospectively reviewed living kidney donor transplants performed between January 2000 and May 2016. Donors were categorized into two groups based on marijuana use and termed marijuana-using donors (MUD) or non-marijuana using donors. Marijuana-using donors self-reported a history of marijuana use or tested positive for cannabinoids in a drug screening. Usage in the marijuana-using donor cohort ranged from one to 400 exposures per year, with an average of 92.

The analysis included 294 living donors and 230 of their paired recipients. Among the living donors, there were 31 marijuana-using donors and 263 non-marijuana using donors. Age, BMI, ethnicity and gender were also included in the analysis for all patients.

Researchers found no difference in donor or recipient postoperative outcomes concerning donor marijuana use, and no significant difference was found for donor demographic data including age, BMI, gender, baseline eGFR or baseline creatinine.

“This study was the first to address the effect donor marijuana use has on recipient or donor renal function postoperatively; consequently, it will open the door for future prospective multicenter studies,” the researchers wrote.

Despite the lack of effect of marijuana on kidney recipient response, the researchers concluded their study with a disclaimer about the substance.

“The results of this study should not be extrapolated to promote or support marijuana use,” they wrote. “The purpose of this study was to determine the consequences of using living kidney donors with a history of marijuana use, and if doing so would compromise either donor or recipient outcomes. Marijuana remains a mind-altering substance that can lead to psychosis, neurodegeneration, poor cognitive development and long-term cognitive deterioration even after a long period of abstinence.” – by Joe Gramigna

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures. Funding was provided by a grant from the Walter McPherson Society at Loma Linda University.