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Hyperlipidemia is an important complication of kidney transplantation affecting up to 74% of recipients. HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors are reported to provide safe and effective treatment for this problem. A recent study suggests that pravastatin, an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, also decreases the incidence of both clinically severe acute rejection episodes and natural killer cell cytotoxicity after orthotopic heart transplantation. We have performed a prospective randomized pilot study of the effect of pravastatin on these same parameters after cadaveric kidney transplantation. Graft recipients were randomized to receive pravastatin after transplantation or no pravastatin (24 patients in each group) in addition to routine cyclosporine and prednisone immunosuppression. Lipid levels, acute rejection episodes and serial natural killer cell cytotoxicities were followed for 4 months after the transplant. At the end of the study period, pravastatin had successfully controlled mean total cholesterol levels (202.6 ± 9.3 vs. 236.5 ± 11.9 mg/dl, P < 0.02), LDL levels(107.9 ± 6.6 vs. 149.6 ± 10.7 mg/dl, P< 0.002), and triglyceride levels (118.8 ± 14.2 vs. 157.2 ± 13.8 mg/dl, P < 0.05). In addition, the pravastatin-treated group experienced a reduction in the incidence of biopsy-proven acute rejection episodes (25% vs. 58%, P = 0.01), the incidence of multiple rejections episodes (P< 0.05), and the use of both pulse methylprednisolone(P = 0.01) and OKT3 (P = 0.02). Mean natural killer cell cytotoxicity was similarly reduced (11.3 ± 1.6 vs. 20.0 ± 2.0% lysis of K562 target cells, P< 0.002). These data suggest that pravastatin exerts an additional immunosuppressive effect in kidney transplant recipients treated with cyclosporine-based immunosuppression.

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