Immunosuppression Considerations for Older Kidney Transplant Recipients

Wisit Cheungpasitporn, Krista L. Lentine, Jane C. Tan, Matthew Kaufmann, Yasar Caliskan, Suphamai Bunnapradist, Ngan N. Lam, Mark Schnitzler, David A. Axelrod

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: While kidney transplantation improves the long-term survival of the majority of patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), age-related immune dysfunction and associated comorbidities make older transplant recipients more susceptible to complications related to immunosuppression. In this review, we discuss appropriate management of immunosuppressive agents in older adults to minimize adverse events, avoid acute rejection, and maximize patient and graft survival. Recent Findings: Physiological changes associated with senescence can impact drug metabolism and increase the risk of post-transplant infection and malignancy. Clinical trials assessing the safety and efficacy of immunosuppressive agents in older adults are lacking. Recent findings from U.S. transplant registry–based studies suggest that risk-adjusted death-censored graft failure is higher among older patients who received antimetabolite avoidance, mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitor (mTORi)–based, and cyclosporine-based regimens. Observational data suggest that risk-adjusted mortality may be increased in older patients who receive mTORi-based and cyclosporine-based regimens but lower in those managed with T cell induction and maintenance steroid avoidance/withdrawal. Summary: Tailored immunosuppression management to improve patient and graft survival in older transplant recipients is an important goal of personalized medicine. Lower intensity immunosuppression, such as steroid-sparing regimens, appears beneficial whereas mTORi- and cyclosporine-based maintenance are associated with greater potential for adverse effects. Prospective clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of immunosuppression agents in older recipients are urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-110
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Transplantation Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Aging
  • End-stage kidney disease
  • Immunosuppression
  • Kidney transplant
  • Medication safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation
  • Surgery
  • Hepatology
  • Nephrology
  • Immunology


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