Efficacy and Safety of Thymoglobulin Induction as an Alternative Approach for Steroid-Free Maintenance Immunosuppression in Pediatric Renal Transplantation

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Abstract

Background.

Given the recent withdrawal of daclizumab (DAC), the safety and efficacy of thymoglobulin (TMG) was tested as an alternative induction agent for steroid-free (SF) immunosuppression in pediatric kidney transplant recipients.

Methods.

Thirteen pediatric renal transplant recipients meeting defined high-risk criteria at transplantation were offered TMG induction and SF immunosuppression with maintenance mycophenolate mofetil and tacrolimus between October 2008 and January 2010. Patients were closely monitored at baseline, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months posttransplant for protocol biopsy and clinical outcomes. Outcomes were compared with 13 consecutively transplanted low-risk patients receiving an established DAC-based SF protocol (Sarwal et al., WA, American Transplant Congress 2003).

Results.

There was a significant trend for overall decrease in the absolute lymphocyte counts in TMG group (F=5.86, mixed model group effect P=0.02), predominately at 3 months compared with DAC group (0.7±0.6 vs. 2.1±1.0, P=0.0004); however, lymphocyte count was recovered and was back to reference range by 6 months in TMG. There was trend toward more subclinical cytomegalovirus (15% vs. 0%) and BK viremia (17% vs. 0%) in the TMG group, with no differences in the incidence of subclinical Epstein Barr virus viremia (23% vs. 31%) or clinical viral disease. Mean graft function was excellent, and with a minimum follow-up of 6 months, there were no episodes of acute rejection.

Conclusion.

TMG seems to be a safe alternative induction strategy in patients for SF immunosuppression in pediatric renal transplantation. Extended follow-up and greater enrollment are necessary to fully explore the impact of TMG dosing on viral replication posttransplantation.

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