Standard chronic immunosuppression after kidney transplantation for systemic lupus erythematosus eliminates recurrence of disease

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BackgroundThere is only limited experience in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) with drugs that have developed for immunosuppression after organ transplantation, namely calcineurin inhibitors (CI). The aim of this study is to determine the effect of these drugs on disease activity after kidney transplant in patients affected by SLE.MethodsBetween January 1990 to March 2003, 13 patients with end stage renal disease secondary to SLE received 14 kidney transplants. The outcome variables assessed include graft and patient survival as well as clinical and serological lupus activity.ResultsAll received CI-based immunosuppression (cyclosporine or tacrolimus). Actuarial patient and graft survivals at 5 yr were 100 and 93%, respectively. Recurrence of clinical or serological disease was never detected.ConclusionsTo date, only anecdotal experience with CI in the treatment of SLE has been reported. The favorable response observed in our patients suggests that CI at low-doses are effective in preventing SLE-reactivation. Further studies focused on calcineurin inhibitor treatment in SLE patients who fail to respond to standard medical management should be conducted.

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