The application, mechanism of action and side-effects of immunosuppressive agents in clinical transplantation
The original publication is available at http://www.samj.org.za
The conventional agents (azathioprine and steroids) have been the mainstay of organ allograft immunosuppression for the past 20 years. The main drawback of the immunosuppressive agents at present in use is that they act nonspecifically with sequential general depression of the immune system. The introduction of cyclosporin, an undecapeptide of fungal origin, which selectively inhibits T-cell-dependent immunoreaction has made a significant impact on organ allograft survival rates. Clinical application has been complicated because of renal or hepatotoxicity. Thoracic duct drainage is of historical interest but the use of antilymphocyte serum, despite its chequered history, has recently been shown to be safe and effective in cadaver kidney transplant recipients. There has also been a resurgence of interest in the use of total lymphoid irradiation as an immunosuppressive agent. The introduction of xenogenic monoclonal antibodies with anti-T-cell specificity opened a new era in clinical immunology and OKT3-PAN has emerged as a powerful major immunosuppressive agent with low toxicity.
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