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Current immunosuppressive drugs have provided excellent outcomes after heart transplantation. However, more patients suffer from long-term complications of these drugs. A series of prospective randomized trials has been conducted and has offered disparate results. This report reviews the challenges of immunosuppressive therapy during the past decade, describes recent reports and explores potential future trends in immunosuppressive protocols in heart transplantation. The traditional combination of cyclosporine, azathioprine and steroids has been changed to tacrolimus (Tac) or cyclosporine in combination with mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) and steroids due to the results of several trials. The use of mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors in combination with Tac or cyclosporine A has not shown a clear benefit compared with MMF. All different combinations have shown some positive effects counteracted by side-effects and negative synergism of combinations. Future protocols need to be adapted according to individual patient's needs and risks. The changing population of heart transplantation patients has become older and sicker. Immunosuppression strategies should be developed for each patient based on their risk for rejection and their risk for developing important complications of immunosuppressive therapy.


Arezu Aliabadi, Adam B Cochrane, Andreas O Zuckermann. Current strategies and future trends in immunosuppression after heart transplantation. Current opinion in organ transplantation. 2012 Oct;17(5):540-5

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PMID: 22941325

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