Immunosuppression: Evolution in Practice and Trends, 1994–2004


  • Note on sources: The articles in this report are based on the reference tables in the 2005 OPTN/SRTR Annual Report, which are not included in this publication. Many relevant data appear in the figures and table included here; other tables from the Annual Report that serve as the basis for this article include the following: Tables 1.9a and b, 5.6a–i, 6.6a–i, 7.6a–i, 8.6a–i, 9.6a–i, 10.6a–i, 11.6a–i, 12.6a–i, 13.6a–i, 15.4a and b, 15.5a and b and 15.4–15.15. All of these tables may be found online at


Over the last 10 years, there have been important changes in immunosuppression management and strategies for solid-organ transplantation, characterized by the use of new immunosuppressive agents and regimens. An organ-by-organ review of OPTN/SRTR data showed several important trends in immunosuppression practice. There is an increasing trend toward the use of induction therapy with antibodies, which was used for most kidney, pancreas after kidney (PAK), simultaneous pancreas-kidney (SPK) and pancreas transplant alone (PTA) recipients in 2004 (72–81%) and for approximately half of all intestine, heart and lung recipients. The highest usage of the tacrolimus/mycophenolate mofetil combination as discharge regimen was reported for SPK (72%) and PAK (64%) recipients. Maintenance of the original discharge regimen through the first 3 years following transplantation varied significantly by organ and drug. The usage of calcineurin inhibitors for maintenance therapy was characterized by a clear transition from cyclosporine to tacrolimus. Corticosteroids were administered to the majority of patients; however, steroid-avoidance and steroid-withdrawal protocols have become increasingly common. The percentage of patients treated for acute rejection during the first year following transplantation has continued to decline, reaching 13% for those who received a kidney in 2003, 48% of which cases were treated with antibodies.