Evolution of immunosuppression and continued importance of acute rejection in renal transplantation

Academic Article


  • As steady improvement in short-term kidney graft survival and long-term outcomes prolongs the lives of transplant patients, responsibility for their care is shifting away from transplant specialists and into the hands of community nephrologists. Therefore, community nephrologists need to have a deeper understanding of immunosuppressive therapies than ever before. Pharmacologic immunosuppression has been continuously evolving over the past two decades. Azathioprine was introduced in the early 1960s. Introduction of cyclosporine (CsA) in 1983 revolutionized short-term outcomes after renal transplantation. The first monoclonal antibody immunosuppressant, OKT3, was introduced in 1986. The 1990s saw the introduction of a number of important new agents, including mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), tacrolimus, and a microemulsion CsA, as well as two new monoclonal antibodies. Combinations of these new agents, along with improving clinical care, have produced 1-year patient survival approaching 100% and graft survival exceeding 90%. The newest class of agents, the first of which is sirolimus, is called target of rapamycin (TOR) inhibitors and is used with CsA for maintenance therapy. Immunosuppressive drug therapy after kidney transplantation continues to evolve. There is a variety of pharmacologic combinations from which to choose, based on immunologic risk and side effect profiles. As new regimens are developed, ongoing communications between the transplant center and community nephrologists will be required to implement therapeutic changes and optimize patient care successfully. © 2001 by the National Kidney Foundation, Inc.
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    Author List

  • Chan L; Gaston R; Hariharan S
  • Volume

  • 38
  • Issue

  • 6