Association of antibody induction immunosuppression with cancer after kidney transplantation

Transplantation. 2015 May;99(5):1051-7. doi: 10.1097/TP.0000000000000449.


Background: Induction immunosuppression is a mainstay of rejection prevention after transplantation. Studies have suggested a connection between antibody induction agents and cancer development, potentially limiting important immunosuppression protocols.

Methods: We used a linkage of U.S. transplantation data and cancer registries to explore the relationship between induction and cancer after transplantation. A total of 111,857 kidney recipients (1987-2009) in the Transplant Cancer Match Study, which links the Scientific Registry for Transplant Recipients and U.S. Cancer Registries, were included. Poisson regression models were used to estimate adjusted incidence rate ratios (aIRR) of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and other cancers with increased incidence after transplantation (lung, colorectal, kidney, and thyroid cancers, plus melanoma).

Results: Two thousand seven hundred sixty-three cancers of interest were identified. Muromonab-CD3 was associated with increased NHL (aIRR, 1.37; 95% CI, 1.06-1.76). Alemtuzumab was associated with increased NHL (aIRR, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.02-3.14), colorectal cancer (aIRR, 2.46; 95% CI, 1.03-5.91), and thyroid cancer (aIRR, 3.37; 95% CI, 1.55-7.33). Polyclonal induction was associated with increased melanoma (aIRR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.06-2.14).

Conclusion: Our findings highlight the relative safety with regard to cancer risk of the most common induction therapies, the need for surveillance of patients treated with alemtuzumab, and the possible role for increased melanoma screening for those patients treated with polyclonal anti-T-cell induction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alemtuzumab
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression / adverse effects*
  • Kidney Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muromonab-CD3 / adverse effects
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Muromonab-CD3
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2
  • Alemtuzumab

Grant support