Rabbit Antithymocyte Globulin Induction Therapy in Adult Renal Transplantation

Authors

  • Karen L. Hardinger Pharm.D.

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Missouri-Kansas City Medical School, Kansas City, Missouri.
      Address reprint requests to Karen L. Hardinger, Pharm.D., BCPS, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Medical School M3-C19, 2411 Holmes Street, Kansas City, MO 64108-2792; e-mail: hardingerk@umkc.edu.
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Address reprint requests to Karen L. Hardinger, Pharm.D., BCPS, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Medical School M3-C19, 2411 Holmes Street, Kansas City, MO 64108-2792; e-mail: hardingerk@umkc.edu.

Abstract

Rabbit antithymocyte globulin (rATG) and horse antithymocyte globulin (horse ATG) are the polyclonal antithymocyte agents available for use in solid organ transplantation in the United States. Horse ATG is indicated for induction immunosuppression and for treatment of acute rejection episodes after kidney transplantation; rATG is indicated for treatment of acute rejection only. However, rATG is commonly used in clinical practice as an induction immunosuppressive agent, instigating many questions regarding appropriate dosing, tolerability, safety, and efficacy. Available evidence supports the use of rATG as an induction agent in adult renal transplant recipients. The use of this product for induction therapy has been studied in conjunction with a full-dose, triple-therapy maintenance regimen (sequential quadruple immunosuppression) consisting of a calcineurin inhibitor, an antimetabolite, and corticosteroids. Rabbit ATG has a proven safety and efficacy profile both as treatment of acute rejection and as induction therapy in patients undergoing kidney transplantation. The most common adverse events associated with rATG are cytokine release syndrome, thrombocytopenia, and lymphopenia. Results of early studies showed an increased rate of cytomegalovirus disease associated with rATG treatment, but recent studies indicate that routine administration of modern antiviral prophylaxis can reduce this risk. Current practice with rATG is evolving to minimize lifelong exposure to calcineurin inhibitors and corticosteroids.

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