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Abstract

A prospective evaluation was performed to study the potential benefits of the use of interleukin-2 receptor antibody (IL-2Rab) in the induction therapy with early elimination of steroid and reduction of tacrolimus dosage in liver transplant recipients among whom 94% had chronic hepatitis B infection. Thirty-one liver transplant recipients who underwent right-lobe live donor (n = 19) or cadaveric (n = 12) liver transplantation received IL-2Rab, basiliximab 20 mg intravenously within 6 hours of graft reperfusion and on postoperative day 4 (IL-2ab group). Two doses of steroid injection were given intraoperatively and on postoperative day 1. Postoperative immunosuppression was maintained with oral tacrolimus and mycophenolate mofetil without the use of steroids. The operative outcomes were compared with those of 49 patients who received standard immunosuppressive regimen consisting of tacrolimus and corticosteroid (steroid group). The overall postoperative morbidity and hospital stay were comparable between the 2 groups. There were significantly lower incidences of postoperative new-onset diabetes (0% vs 28%, P = .011), acute cellular rejection (6% vs 27%, P = .038), and cytomegalovirus (CMV) antigenemia (0% vs 18%, P = .011) in the IL-2Rab group compared with the steroid group. The blood cholesterol level at 6 months after transplantation was significantly lower in the IL-2Rab group (median, 4.0 vs 4.4 mmol/L, P = .007). On follow-up, none of the patients in the IL-2Rab group had hepatitis B viral breakthrough or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) recurrence, whereas 1 and 3 patients in the steroid group developed these complications, respectively. In conclusion, treatment of liver transplant recipients with IL-2Rab with early withdrawal of steroids and reduction of tacrolimus dosage is associated with lower incidences of postoperative new-onset diabetes, acute cellular rejection, and CMV antigenemia, as well as a lower serum cholesterol level. Further studies and long-term follow-up are required to document their potential benefits on hepatitis B and HCC recurrences. (Liver Transpl 2004;10:728–733.)