Short-Term Induction Therapy with Anti-Thymocyte Globulin and Delayed Use of Calcineurin Inhibitors in Orthotopic Liver Transplantation

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The appropriate time point for starting immunosuppressive treatment with calcineurin inhibitors after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) has been a subject of debate. The aim of the study was to analyze the effects of anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) induction therapy on rejection, renal function, infection, tumor rate, and survival. We retrospectively analyzed 391 patients after OLT who had either received calcineurin inhibitors immediately after OLT (n = 129) or after an initial short-term Thymoglobulin induction therapy (n = 262). The 1-year acute rejection rate was 14.5% vs. 31.8% in favor of ATG (P = 0.0008). Rejection grades and the need for treatment also differed significantly (7.3% vs. 23.3%; P = 0.001). Serum creatinine at transplantation was similar in both groups (1.14 mg/dL vs.1.18 mg/dL; P = NS). Postoperative hemofiltration was less frequently seen after induction therapy (P < 0.05). Reduced renal function at 1 year was commonly observed, but serum creatinine (1.26 mg/dL vs. 1.37mg/dL; P = 0.015) and glomerular filtration rate (81 mL/min vs. 75 mL/min; P = 0.02) were far better in the ATG group. Undesired side effects occurred at a similar rate in both groups. Five-year patient survival was also similar in the 2 groups (70.1% and 74.3%; P > 0.05). Short-term ATG induction therapy with delayed administration of calcineurin inhibitors led to a more favorable rejection rate and an improved clinical course in case of a rejection episode. It has beneficial effects on renal function immediately after OLT as well as later, and no additional harmful effects. Liver Transpl 13:1039–1044, 2007. © 2007 AASLD.

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