Background. We previously reported that the use of basiliximab together with sirolimus permits a window of recovery from delayed graft function before the introduction of reduced-dose cyclosporine. The present study reviews our experience with the substitution of thymoglobulin for basiliximab as induction therapy for recipients at increased risk for early acute rejection episodes. Methods. We retrospectively reviewed 145 cadaveric renal allograft recipients who received either basiliximab (n=115) or thymoglobulin (n=30) in combination with sirolimus and prednisone, followed by delayed introduction of reduced doses of cyclosporine. Recipients were stratified as high immune responders if they were African American, a retransplant recipient, or a recipient with a panel-reactive antibody greater than 50%. All other recipients were considered low immune responders. Results. Basiliximab-treated high immune responders exhibited a higher incidence of acute rejection episodes (26%) than either basiliximab-treated low immune responders (10%, P= 0.04) or thymoglobulin- treated high immune responders (3%, P=0.01). The median time to initiation of cyclosporine was 12 days; cyclosporine was initiated when the serum creatinine level was 2.5 mg/dL or less. Patients with early return of renal function displayed a lower incidence of acute rejection episodes than those with later recovery of function (P=0.003). High immune responders treated with basiliximab expressed a higher mean serum creatinine level at 3 months (P<0.01), 6 months (P=0.02) and 12 months (P=0.01) than either low immune responders treated with basiliximab or high immune responders treated with thymoglobulin. Conclusion. A strategy combining sirolimus with basiliximab for low-immunologic risk recipients and thymoglobulin for high-risk recipients leads to prompt recovery of renal function with a low risk of acute rejection episodes.
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