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Drugs. 2008;68(15):2113-30.

Tolerance-inducing immunosuppressive strategies in clinical transplantation: an overview.

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  • 1Transplantation Centre and Transplantation Immunopathology Laboratory, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), Lausanne University, Lausanne, Switzerland.


The significant development of immunosuppressive drug therapies within the past 20 years has had a major impact on the outcome of clinical solid organ transplantation, mainly by decreasing the incidence of acute rejection episodes and improving short-term patient and graft survival. However, long-term results remain relatively disappointing because of chronic allograft dysfunction and patient morbidity or mortality, which is often related to the adverse effects of immunosuppressive treatment. Thus, the induction of specific immunological tolerance of the recipient towards the allograft remains an important objective in transplantation. In this article, we first briefly describe the mechanisms of allograft rejection and immune tolerance. We then review in detail current tolerogenic strategies that could promote central or peripheral tolerance, highlighting the promises as well as the remaining challenges in clinical transplantation. The induction of haematopoietic mixed chimerism could be an approach to induce robust central tolerance, and we describe recent encouraging reports of end-stage kidney disease patients, without concomitant malignancy, who have undergone combined bone marrow and kidney transplantation. We discuss current studies suggesting that, while promoting peripheral transplantation tolerance in preclinical models, induction protocols based on lymphocyte depletion (polyclonal antithymocyte globulins, alemtuzumab) or co-stimulatory blockade (belatacept) should, at the current stage, be considered more as drug-minimization rather than tolerance-inducing strategies. Thus, a better understanding of the mechanisms that promote peripheral tolerance has led to newer approaches and the investigation of individualized donor-specific cellular therapies based on manipulated recipient regulatory T cells.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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