Treatment of recurrent rejection in heart transplantation: cytolytic therapy or bolus steroids?

Hausen, B; Demertzis, S; Rohde, R; Gohrband, B; Wahlers, T; Pethig, K; Schäfers, H J (1996). Treatment of recurrent rejection in heart transplantation: cytolytic therapy or bolus steroids? European journal of cardio-thoracic surgery, 10(10), 905-10; discussion 910-1. Oxford: Oxford University Press 10.1016/S1010-7940(96)80319-8

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OBJECTIVES: The treatment of recurrent rejection in heart transplant recipients has been a controversial issue for many years. The intent of this retrospective study was to perform a risk-benefit analysis between treatment strategies with bolus steroids only versus anti-thymocyte globulins (RATG; 1.5 mg/kg q 4 days). METHODS: Between 1986 and 1993, 69 of 425 patients (17 male, 52 female; mean age 44 +/- 11 years) who had more than one rejection/patient per month (rej/pt per mo) in the first 3 postoperative months were defined as recurrent rejectors. RESULTS: Repetitive methylprednisolone bolus therapy (70 mg/kg q 3 days) was given in 27 patients (group M; 1.4 +/- 0.2 rej/pt per mo) and RATG therapy for one of the rejection episodes of the 42 remaining patients (group A; 1.5 +/- 0.2 rej/pt per mo). The quality of triple drug immunosuppression in the two study groups was comparable. The rejection-free interval (RFI) following RATG treatment in group A was 21.6 +/- 10 days and 22 +/- 11 in group M. In group M, 3 of 27 patients (11%) had a rejection treatment-related infection (2 bacterial; 1 viral) versus 6 of the 42 patients of group A (14.2%; bacterial 1, viral 5). During postoperative months 3-24, 0.15 +/- 0.12 rej/pat per mo were observed in group M and 0.21 +/- 0.13 rej/pat per mo in group A (n.s.). In this 21-month period cytolytic therapy for rejection was initiated in 8 of the remaining 21 patients of group M (38%) and 15 of the remaining 37 patients of group A (40.5%). The absolute survival and the individual causes of death were not affected by the type of initial treatment of recurrent rejection. The actuarial freedom of graft atherosclerosis is comparable in the two groups with 78% in group A versus 79% in group M free of graft atherosclerosis at 3 years postoperatively. CONCLUSIONS: A comparison of cytolytic therapy versus repeated applications of bolus steroids for treatment of recurrent rejection reveals no significant difference in the long-term patient outcome with respect to the incidence of future rejection episodes and survival.

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Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Faculty Institutions > Teaching Staff, Faculty of Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Demertzis, Stefanos






Oxford University Press




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04 Oct 2013 15:08

Last Modified:

04 May 2014 23:21

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URI: (FactScience: 157834)

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