Decreasing Incidence of Coronary Disease in Pediatric Cardiac Transplant Recipients Using Increased Immunosuppression

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Abstract

Background

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a limiting factor to long-term survival in cardiac transplant recipients, affecting from 30%1 to 50%, of patients by 5 years after surgery. Can the incidence of CAD be lowered with augmentation of immunosuppression? Methods and Results. We compared the incidence of CAD in our pediatric transplant population with nine potential risk factors, including immunosuppressive regimen. The study group consisted of 55 patients who survived more than 1 year (or to first angiogram) or had autopsies. Coronary angiograms were performed yearly and compared sequentially. The mean follow-up of 55 patients was 36 months. Mean age was 10.3±6 years (range, 4 months to 18 years). Thirteen patients received double immunosuppression with cyclosporine and prednisone, and 42 received triple therapy with cyclosporine, prednisone, and azathioprine. Significant CAD occurred in 10 grafts (6 deaths and 3 retransplants). Cause for graft loss in 6 patients with CAD was acute rejection. CAD was detected by angiogram in only 2 patients. Nine of 10 patients received double therapy (P<.001). There was no difference in mean follow-up between immunosuppression groups. There was a higher rejection frequency for double therapy (0.19±0.16 rejections per patient month) compared with triple therapy (0.07±0.11). Ten patients were rejection free in the triple therapy group.

Conclusions

We experienced a significant decrease in the incidence of CAD in our pediatric cardiac transplant recipients using increased immunosuppressive therapy. Type of immunosuppressive regimen (double) and rejection frequency were independent predictors for CAD by multivariate analysis.

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