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Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2007 Sep;22 Suppl 8:viii54-viii60.

Thymoglobulin and ischemia reperfusion injury in kidney and liver transplantation.

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  • 1Department of General, Visceral and Transplantation Surgery, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 110, 69120 Heidelberg.


Since the beginning of organ transplantation, graft preservation has been one of the most important concerns. Ischemia reperfusion injury (IRI), which plays an important role in the quality and function of the graft, is a major cause for increased length of hospitalization and decreased long term graft survival. Among numerous attempts which have been made to minimize graft damage associated with IRI, the use of Thymoglobulin (TG) seems to offer potential benefits. TG is a polyclonal antibody which blocks multiple antigens related to IRI, in addition to its better known T cell depleting effects. This review will focus on the use of TG in preventing IRI in kidney transplantation (KTx) and liver transplantation (LTx). Different studies in experimental and clinical transplantation have shown that TG protects renal and liver grafts from IRI. Improvement in early graft function and decreased delayed graft function (DGF) rates are some of the clinical benefits of TG. Additionally, it is used in patients with hepatorenal syndrome to support the recovery of kidney function after LTx, by allowing reduced exposure to nephrotoxic calcineurin inhibitors as well as improving liver graft function by minimizing IRI. TG can reduce acute rejection rates in kidney and liver transplant recipients, decrease the length of hospital stay, and hence reduce transplantation costs. TG can play an important role in expanding the donor pool in both KTx and LTx by improving long-term graft and patient survival rates which increases the possibility of using marginal donors. Although controversial, the development of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder is a potential side effect of TG. No single optimal immunosuppressive regimen has given consistent results in decreasing the graft damage following IRI; however, TG usage in KTx and LTx appears to have some benefits in reducing IRI.

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