Managing Transplant Rejection in the Elderly: The Benefits of Less Aggressive Immunosuppressive Regimens
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- Heldal, K. & Midtvedt, K. Drugs Aging (2013) 30: 459. doi:10.1007/s40266-013-0082-z
Organ transplantation is increasingly common in the older population, particularly among end-stage renal disease patients. The outcomes of transplantation are often inferior in older people compared with younger recipients, partly because of the side effects of immunosuppressive medication used after organ transplantation. In this paper, we explore treatment considerations for older transplant patients. The current commonly used immunosuppressive protocols have not been validated sufficiently in older organ recipients. The primary objective for the management of transplant recipients of all ages is to prevent rejection without increasing the risk of infection or other long-term complications. To avoid serious side effects related to immunosuppressive treatment, the clinician should consider modifying and tailoring the long-term regimen for individual patients. Modifications for older recipients include reduction in the dosage or avoidance of calcineurin inhibitors, with or without the introduction of a mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitor and discontinuing the use of corticosteroids. Such modifications must consider the individual risks and needs of each recipient. Treatment of an acute rejection episode should follow the same protocol as for younger recipients, but special attention is needed to ensure reduction in the total immunosuppressive load. One way to achieve this is to avoid anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) induction and to use on-demand ATG treatment of rejection on the basis of the patient’s CD3 T cell count.