Background The use of HbA1c ≥6.5% for diagnosis of diabetes has been challenged for post-transplantation diabetes mellitus (PTDM) also known as new onset diabetes after transplantation (NODAT) due to a low sensitivity early after renal transplantation. PTDM diagnosed with an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is highly predictable for long-term patient mortality. HbA1c was introduced for diagnosis based on the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. The utility of HbA1c measures versus glucose criteria has not been widely assessed in stable transplant patients but still HbA1c is widely used in this population. The aim of the present analyses was to validate the utility of fasting plasma glucose (FPG) together with HbA1c in diagnosing PTDM in stable renal transplant recipients (RTRs). Methods OGTT’s were performed one year after transplantation in 494 consecutive RTRs without diabetes. FPG and HbA1c were obtained the same day, before starting the OGTT. Validation was performed using C-statistics and logistic regression analyses. Results PTDM was diagnosed in 51 patients (10.3%) by glucose criteria, 38 (74%) patients were diagnosed by FPG ≥7.0 mmol/L [126.1 mg/dl], and 13 (26%) only by 2-h plasma glucose. Six of the latter had HbA1c ≥6.5%. Only seven patients out of the 51 (13.7%) PTDM patients remained undiagnosed when HbA1c ≥6.5% was used together with FPG, and five of these regressed to normal after a median follow-up of 14 months. ROC curves including FPG and HbA1c versus OGTT derived criteria revealed an AUC of 0.858. Conclusions Combining standard diagnostic FPG and HbA1c criteria captured almost all patients with persistent PTDM in stable RTRs. The combined use of the criteria appears to be an applicable diagnostic strategy for PTDM without the need of an OGTT one year post-transplant. Trial registration Retrospectively registered.
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