Alemtuzumab induction and triple maintenance immunotherapy in kidney transplantation from donors after cardiac death


Luis Fernandez, MD, Division of Organ Transplantation, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, 600 Highland Avenue, CSC H4/733, Madison, WI, USA. Tel.: 1 608 263 9903; fax: 1 608 263 9903; e-mail:


We have used alemtuzumab in combination with triple maintenance immunosuppression in renal transplantation from donors after cardiac death between 2002 and 2006. We compared outcomes of induction therapy with alemtuzumab with interleukin-2 (IL-2) receptor antagonists (RA) and anti-lymphocyte antibodies. We used a retrospective sequential study design to examine 170 recipients of kidneys from donor after cardiac death (DCD) for survival, graft survival, time to first rejection, glomerular filtration and complications. Patients were stratified into high-risk and low-risk groups based on the following criteria: panel of reactive antibodies >20%, retransplants, Afro-American race. Induction with alemtuzumab was compared with anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) in the high-risk and with IL-2RA in the low-risk group. Patients received triple immunosuppression with steroids, mycophenolate mofetil and calcineurin inhibitors. Patient survival, graft survival, rejection rate and glomerular filtration rate did not significantly differ between patients treated with alemtuzumab versus IL-2RAs or ATG. There was a trend towards reduced graft- and patient survival in the alemtuzumab group. There was an increased incidence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections in the alemtuzumab-induced group and a trend towards increased BK virus and bacterial infections. Induction of DCD kidney transplants with alemtuzumab compared to IL-2RA and ATG has no significant impact on acute rejection. It appears however that CMV infections are increased in patients induced with alemtuzumab. We therefore conclude that induction with alemtuzumab does not confer any advantage over traditional induction agents.