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Drugs. 2002;62(7):995-1011.

Options for induction immunosuppression in liver transplant recipients.

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Multi-Organ Transplant Program, London Health Sciences Center, 339 Windermere Road, London, Ontario N6A 5A5, Canada.


Immunosuppression administered in the early postoperative period following liver transplantation plays a crucial role in the survival of the graft and the patient. The introduction of cyclosporin was an important landmark in transplantation, and to this day, calcineurin inhibitors form the basis of most induction immunosuppression regimens. New drugs are being developed which are more specifically targeted to prevention of rejection, and multiple drug combinations have been proposed as a means of reducing the adverse effects of individual drugs. Azathioprine and the newer antimetabolite mycophenolate mofetil have been added to calcineurin inhibitor-based regimens with varying amounts of success. Antibody induction has evolved as a potent form of immunosuppression as well as a means of avoiding certain adverse effects, particularly nephrotoxicity. The numerous adverse effects encountered with polyclonal preparations have been reduced with the development of more specific monoclonal antibodies such as muromonab CD3 (OKT3) or interleukin (IL)-2 receptor (IL-2R) antagonists. The anti-IL-2R antibody preparations basiliximab and daclizumab have shown excellent early results due to their potent yet highly targeted immunosuppressive effect and minimal adverse effects. Further study is needed to determine the most appropriate dosage, timing and patient population for these new drugs in the setting of liver transplantation. Although a number of different induction regimens have been described, no single protocol is suitable for all liver transplant recipients. Rather, certain regimens have advantages that could favour their use in a specific subgroup of patients. A number of clinical trials are underway to identify new, more specific drugs and combinations which could be useful in induction immunosuppression.

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