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17 August 2018 : Original article  

The Efficacy of Rabbit Anti-Thymocyte Globulin for Acute Kidney Transplant Rejection in Patients Using Calcineurin Inhibitor and Mycophenolate Mofetil-Based Immunosuppressive Therapy

Marieke van der Zwan1ABCDEF*, Marian C. Clahsen-Van Groningen2BE, Joke I. Roodnat1CE, Anne P. Bouvy1B, Casper L. Slachmuylders1B, Willem Weimar1E, Carla C. Baan1E, Dennis A. Hesselink1ACDE, Marcia M.L. Kho1ACDE

DOI: 10.12659/AOT.909646

Ann Transplant 2018; 23:577-590


BACKGROUND: T cell depleting antibody therapy with rabbit anti-thymocyte globulin (rATG) is the treatment of choice for glucocorticoid-resistant acute kidney allograft rejection (AR) and is used as first-line therapy in severe AR. Almost all studies investigating the effectiveness of rATG for this indication were conducted at the time when cyclosporine A and azathioprine were the standard of care. Here, the long-term outcome of rATG for AR in patients using the current standard immunosuppressive therapy (i.e., tacrolimus and mycophenolate mofetil) is described.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Between 2002 to 2012, 108 patients were treated with rATG for AR. Data on kidney function in the year following rATG and long-term outcomes were collected.

RESULTS: Overall survival after rATG was comparable to overall survival of all kidney transplantation patients (P=0.10). Serum creatinine 1 year after rATG was 179 µmol/L (interquartile range (IQR) 136–234 µmol/L) and was comparable to baseline serum creatinine (P=0.22). Early AR showed better allograft survival than late AR (P=0.0007). In addition, 1 year after AR, serum creatinine was lower in early AR (157 mol/L; IQR 131–203) compared to late AR (216 mol/L; IQR 165–269; P<0.05). The Banff grade of rejection, kidney function at the moment of rejection, and reason for rATG (severe or glucocorticoid resistant AR) did not influence the allograft survival.

CONCLUSIONS: Treatment of AR with rATG is effective in patients using current standard immunosuppressive therapy, even in patients with poor allograft function. Early identification of AR followed by T cell depleting treatment leads to better allograft outcomes.

Keywords: Antilymphocyte Serum, Calcineurin, Graft Rejection, Kidney Transplantation

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Annals of Transplantation eISSN: 2329-0358
Annals of Transplantation eISSN: 2329-0358