MONOTHERAPY WITH CYCLOSPORINE FOR CHRONIC IMMUNOSUPPRESSION IN PEDIATRIC LIVER TRANSPLANT RECIPIENTS

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Abstract

Children who survive liver transplantation (LT) suffer the adverse effects of life-long immunosuppression. In an attempt to minimize these effects, we have instituted a program of tapering immunosuppression, resulting in chronic monotherapy for children after LT. Seventy-three children ages 4 months to 19 years received LT between January 1987 and December 1992. Patient survival was 85% (62/73), with graft survival of 73%, at one year. Triple therapy with prednisone, cyclosporine, and azathioprine begun at transplant was tapered as follows: 1–2 mg/kg prednisone at discharge was reduced by .2 mg/kg every 2 months until a .2 mg/kg total was reached. Alternate-day steroids (.2 mg/kg) were begun at 1 year and discontinued at 1.5 years. AZA (1 mg/kg) was begun posttransplant and discontinued after any serious viral illness or by 1 year. Currently 37 survivors are >18 months post-LT and were considered candidates for monotherapy. Monotherapy was attempted in 28 (76%), and 25 of these remain on monotherapy an average of 2 years later. All have normal liver function. After monotherapy and alternate-day steroids were achieved, 66% of children <5th percentile for height at the time of transplant improved to greater than the 5th percentile. There were 3 (11%) patients who rejected while on monotherapy an average of 1.15 years after it was started. These patients had the following predisposing factors that decreased cyclosporine levels and led to rejection: common bile duct stricture, chronic and intermittent antibiotic administration for urinary tract infection, and noncompliance. In the 9 potential candidates not tapered to monotherapy, 6 have had recurrent acute or chronic rejection; 2 of these now receive FK506.We conclude that the majority of stable pediatric LT recipients may be safely tapered to chronic cyclosporine monotherapy. Increased growth is a major benefit of decreased steroid dosing in these children. Cyclo-

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