Immunosuppression for lung transplantation: evidence to date

Drugs. 2007;67(11):1531-9. doi: 10.2165/00003495-200767110-00002.


With the introduction of ciclosporin (cyclosporine) into routine clinical practice 20 years ago, lung transplantation has become an established treatment for patients with advanced lung disease. Most lung transplant recipients routinely continue to receive a triple-drug maintenance immunosuppressive regimen consisting of a calcineurin inhibitor, an antimetabolite and corticosteroids. The use of antibody-based induction therapy remains common, although there has been a shift away from T cell-depleting agents, such as antithymocyte globulin, towards anti-interleukin-2 receptor monoclonal antibodies. Recent years have seen the introduction of sirolimus and everolimus, immunosuppressive drugs that act by blocking growth factor-driven cell proliferation. While the newer immunosuppressive drugs have been rigorously evaluated in large randomised trials in kidney, liver and cardiac transplantation, such studies are lacking in lung transplantation. Despite a shift towards more potent immunosuppressive regimens that incorporate tacrolimus and mycophenolate mofetil, the development of chronic allograft rejection, as manifested by the bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome continues to negatively impact on the long-term survival of lung transplant recipients. This article reviews the evidence for the immunosuppressive regimens used during induction and maintenance of patients undergoing lung transplantation, and discusses current strategies in the management of chronic rejection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Azathioprine / administration & dosage
  • Calcineurin Inhibitors*
  • Cyclosporine / administration & dosage
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Everolimus
  • Graft Rejection / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Lung Transplantation / immunology*
  • Mycophenolic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Mycophenolic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Sirolimus / administration & dosage
  • Sirolimus / analogs & derivatives
  • Tacrolimus / administration & dosage


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Calcineurin Inhibitors
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclosporine
  • Everolimus
  • Mycophenolic Acid
  • Azathioprine
  • Sirolimus
  • Tacrolimus