Study Suggests Reduced Immunosuppression May Be Best

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The kidney is the most commonly transplanted organ in the United States, with more than 17,000 transplants performed each year. Following kidney transplant, patients are routinely placed on a regimen of immunosuppressant medications to prevent organ rejection, which often includes calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs) as the backbone medication of this regimen. However, questions remain about the best use of these drugs to strike the balance between preventing rejection and avoiding drug-related complications. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in partnership with ECRI Institute under the ECRI Institute-Penn Medicine Evidence-based Practice Center contract, investigated four immunosuppression strategies and found that many patients might benefit from a lower-than-standard dose of CNIs. Their findings are detailed in a study published this week in the American Journal of Transplantation, with additional research included online in an extended Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) report.

One of the main hurdles in using immunosuppressant medications is finding the right balance between too little drug, which results in organ rejection, and too much drug, which can increase risk of infections, renal failure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. As part of the larger AHRQ report, the team conducted an analysis of 105 studies from 1994 through 2015 to compare laboratory techniques for monitoring CNI drug levels, to examine the best times to collect CNI drug levels, and to evaluate alternatives to using standard dose CNIs as part of the immunosuppressant regimen in kidney transplant recipients.

“A big question in the field is whether there is a benefit to prescribing an alternative CNI dose, or even an entirely different immunosuppressant regimen for kidney recipients,” said Deirdre Sawinski, MD, an assistant professor in the division of Renal Electrolyte and Hypertension. “CNI dosing protocols have changed over time but the impact on clinical outcomes is unknown.”

Read full article at http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2016/03/ahrq/

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