The recipients on prednisone-free maintenance immunosuppression had excellent -yr actuarial patient survival (97%), graft survival (93%), and acceptable acute rejection-free graft survival (89%). The mean serum creatinine level (+/-SD) at one yr was +/- mg/dL and at two yr was +/- mg/dL. We noted that 5% of recipients developed cytomegalovirus (CMV) syndrome; 1%, polyoma nephropathy; 1%, post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD), and 5% developed post-transplant diabetes mellitus (PTDM). In all, 91% of kidney recipients with functioning grafts remain steroid-free as of 31 December 2005. When compared with historical controls, the recipients on the early steroid-withdrawal (ESW) protocol had comparable graft survival, acute rejection-free survival, graft function, but significantly better patient actuarial survival (p = ). In addition, recipients on the steroid-free protocol had decreased prevalence of four risk factors for cardiovascular disease when compared with historical controls: hypertension (p = ), hyperlipidemia (p = ), weight gain (p = ), and incidence of PTDM (p = ).
Corticosteroids have been used as drug treatment for some time. Lewis Sarett of Merck & Co. was the first to synthesize cortisone, using a complicated 36-step process that started with deoxycholic acid, which was extracted from ox bile .  The low efficiency of converting deoxycholic acid into cortisone led to a cost of US $200 per gram. Russell Marker , at Syntex , discovered a much cheaper and more convenient starting material, diosgenin from wild Mexican yams . His conversion of diosgenin into progesterone by a four-step process now known as Marker degradation was an important step in mass production of all steroidal hormones, including cortisone and chemicals used in hormonal contraception .  In 1952, . Peterson and . Murray of Upjohn developed a process that used Rhizopus mold to oxidize progesterone into a compound that was readily converted to cortisone.  The ability to cheaply synthesize large quantities of cortisone from the diosgenin in yams resulted in a rapid drop in price to US $6 per gram, falling to $ per gram by 1980. Percy Julian's research also aided progress in the field.  The exact nature of cortisone's anti-inflammatory action remained a mystery for years after, however, until the leukocyte adhesion cascade and the role of phospholipase A2 in the production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes was fully understood in the early 1980s.