Prevention of acute allograft rejection in nonhuman primate lung transplant recipients - Induction with chimeric anti-interleukin-2 receptor monoclonal antibody improves the tolerability and potentiates the immunosuppressive activity of a regimen using low doses of both microemulsion cyclosporine and 40-O-(2-hydroxyethyl)-rapamycin TRANSPLANTATION Hausen, B., Gummert, J., Berry, G. J., Christians, U., Serkova, N., Ikonen, T., Hook, L., Legay, F., Schuler, W., Schreier, M. H., Morris, R. E. 2000; 69 (4): 488-496


In previous studies of cynomolgus monkey lung allograft recipients, we demonstrated significant immunosuppressive efficacy but reduced tolerability after combined treatment with high doses of microemulsion cyclosporine (CsA) and SDZ RAD (40-O-(2-hydroxyethyl)-rapamycin). The current study was designed to compare efficacy and tolerability of a combination of low-dose CsA and high-dose SDZ RAD (CTL group) to triple therapy using the chimeric anti-interleukin-2 (IL-2) receptor (CD25) monoclonal antibody (mAb) basiliximab (anti-IL-2 receptor mAb) for induction therapy (basiliximab: 5 mg intravenously on days 0 and 4) plus low-dose CsA and low-dose SDZ RAD for maintenance immunosuppression (CD25 group). CsA and anti-IL-2 receptor mAb are drugs that reduce cytokine synthesis and block IL-2-mediated lymphocyte stimulation, respectively. SDZ RAD blocks lymphocyte stimulation by other cytokines (e.g., IL-15) that are not inhibited by anti-IL-2 receptor mAb.Twelve unilateral lung transplants were performed. Recipients were observed for 49 days by daily weight assessment, hemograms, blood chemistries, radiographs, and lung biopsies. Monkeys were euthanized before day 49 in the event of excessive weight loss (>25%) or organ failure. Target CsA trough levels were 100-200 ng/ml. Target SDZ RAD trough levels in the CTL group (no mAb) were 20-40 ng/ml, and 10-20 ng/ml in the CD25 group.None of the monkeys in the CD25 group needed to be euthanized early due to signs of drug toxicity. In contrast, four monkeys in the CTL group were sacrificed on days 28-35 as a result of excessive weight loss (n=3) and renal functional impairment (n=1). Three recipients in the CD25 group were euthanized on days 36, 38, and 46 as a result of persistent high fever associated with severe rejection. The median animal survival in the CTL group was 32 vs. 46 days in the CD25 group (P<0.04). The only two long-term survivors in the CTL group showed moderate rejection at day 49. The median rejection scores at day 14 (A0) and day 28 (A2) were identical in the two groups, despite the fact that the mean SDZ RAD trough level was significantly lower in the CD25 group (CTL: 38+/-3 ng/ml, CD25: 18+/-2 ng/ml, P<0.0001). After basiliximab levels fell below the minimum therapeutic level (1 mg/ml) on day 28, the median rejection score at day 49 increased to A4 in the CD25 group.This is the first study to combine an anti-IL-2 receptor mAb with a drug from the rapamycin class plus CsA. Our study shows that induction therapy with basiliximab enabled SDZ RAD blood levels to be significantly reduced, which led to improved tolerability without the penalty of increased rejection.

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