What is immunosuppression after solid organ transplantation?

Updated: Mar 01, 2021
  • Author: Bethany Pellegrino, MD; Chief Editor: Mary C Mancini, MD, PhD, MMM  more...
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Immunosuppression after solid organ transplantation is complex. Over the past 50 years, the medical community has witnessed great advances in the care of patients receiving organ transplants. Improved therapeutic strategies have been associated with better patient and graft survival rates; however, the adverse effects associated with these agents and the risks of long-term immunosuppression present a number of challenges for the clinician. With all the successes of immunosuppressive therapies come the obligations to tailor treatments to meet the individual patient's characteristics and to balance the risks and benefits of these medications.

The image below depicts the points of action of immunosuppressive drugs.

Simplified diagram illustrating the points of acti Simplified diagram illustrating the points of action of immunosuppressive drugs. Corticosteroids inhibit production of interleukin-1. Macrolides (ie, cyclosporine, tacrolimus, sirolimus) inhibit production of or use of interleukin-2, thus inhibiting stimulation of a clone of cytotoxic T lymphocytes directed against specific human lymphocyte antigen types. Antimetabolites (ie, mycophenolate mofetil, azathioprine) inhibit purine production, thus impairing cell proliferation. Antibodies impair normal function of cell surface markers, thus inhibiting stimulation of T-lymphocyte clones directed against foreign antigens. Diagram provided by David A. Hatch, MD, copyright 2001, used with permission.

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