Most kidney transplant centers in the United States utilize induction agents as part of their immunosupression protocols. The reasoning behind is that induction therapy has been shown to reduce the rate of acute rejection, however no trial has yet demonstrated an improvement in long-term graft survival. Induction therapy has also expanded in centers using steroid-withdrawal protocols and in patients with expected delayed graft function due to prolong ischemia time (ECD/DCD kidneys), since calcineurin inhibitor initiation may be delayed (significant vasoconstriction from CNI may potentially delay recovery).
Rabbit antithymocyte globulin (rATG or Thymoglobulin) is the most common agent used in more than 55% of transplant cases in the USA, despite not being FDA-approved for this use (only for treatment of severe cellular rejection). Curiously, rATG is prepared by immunizing pathogen-free
Our center uses ATG for induction in high immunological risk patients and Basiliximab for low risk patients in combination with tacrolimus and MMF for maintenance. Steroid withdrawal is performed on most patients by the end of first week post-transplantation, with the exception of highly sensitized patients.
Below a summary table of the 3 most common induction agents in clinical use today, their target cells, dose, cost and side effects.
|Antibody||Brand||Class||Lymphocyte depleting||Antigenic Target and Cells||Typical prescription||Side effects|
IL2 receptor (CD25)
Activated T cells
|20mg x2 doses U$4,254||Hypersensitivity reaction (rare)|
|Rabbit antithymocyte globulin||Thymoglobulin (Genzyme)||Polyclonal||Yes||
Mainly T cells, to a lesser extent B and NK
3-7 doses U$7,824-18,256
Premedicate with steroids and Tylenol
Decrease dose if WBC
Fever, chills, dyspnea, nausea, diarrhea,
headache, general pain and pulmonary
edema (cytokine release syndrome)
|Alemtuzumab||Campath 1H (Berlex Laboratories)||Monoclonal||Yes (more prolonged)||
T, B and NK cells, monocytes,
|30mg x1 dose U$2,065||
Generally none when given