Prolonged survival of renal allograft in rats by methotrexate-albumin conjugates as immunosuppressive therapy

Transplant Proc. 2008 Dec;40(10):3725-7. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2008.06.069.


Methothrexate (MTX) causes unwanted adverse events by affecting gastrointestinal and bone marrow cells when used as an immunosuppressant. Our aim was to reduce those side effects by covalent binding of methothrexate to human serum albumin (HSA) targeting rapidly proliferating lymphocytes, which are known to ingest albumin as an energy source. Twenty-one rats received a kidney transplant. Group A (n = 5) received standard immunosupression (free MTX); group B (n = 9), albumin-MTX conjugates; and group C (n = 7) albumin control. The primary endpoint of this animal study was transplant survival, which was evaluated as death due to uremia. The study was terminated on day 100. Placebo-treated rat recipients (group C) rejected their grafts at a median of 8 days, which was prolonged to 17 days in standard immunosuppressed rats (group A), resulting in doubling transplant survival compared to nonimmunosuppressed animals. However, the same dose given as HSA-conjugated MTX prolonged the median survival time to 43 days. (group B). Hence, the administration of conjugated methotrexate appeared to result in a doubling of transplant survival compared with standard immunosuppression. Moreover, two animals receiving MTX-HSA became long-term survivors without additional immunosuppression. Further studies should be performed to evaluate the significance of these findings in larger animals and possibly in clinical studies.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Graft Rejection / prevention & control
  • Graft Survival / drug effects*
  • Half-Life
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Kidney Transplantation / physiology*
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / pharmacokinetics
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Serum Albumin / pharmacokinetics
  • Serum Albumin / therapeutic use*
  • Transplantation, Homologous


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Serum Albumin
  • methotrexate-serum albumin
  • Methotrexate