Infection in Organ Transplantation

Am J Transplant. 2017 Apr;17(4):856-879. doi: 10.1111/ajt.14208. Epub 2017 Mar 10.


The prevention, diagnosis, and management of infectious disease in transplantation are major contributors to improved outcomes in organ transplantation. The risk of serious infections in organ recipients is determined by interactions between the patient's epidemiological exposures and net state of immune suppression. In organ recipients, there is a significant incidence of drug toxicity and a propensity for drug interactions with immunosuppressive agents used to maintain graft function. Thus, every effort must be made to establish specific microbiologic diagnoses to optimize therapy. A timeline can be created to develop a differential diagnosis of infection in transplantation based on common patterns of infectious exposures, immunosuppressive management, and antimicrobial prophylaxis. Application of quantitative molecular microbial assays and advanced antimicrobial therapies have advanced care. Pathogen-specific immunity, genetic polymorphisms in immune responses, and dynamic interactions between the microbiome and the risk of infection are beginning to be explored. The role of infection in the stimulation of alloimmune responses awaits further definition. Major hurdles include the shifting worldwide epidemiology of infections, increasing antimicrobial resistance, suboptimal assays for the microbiologic screening of organ donors, and virus-associated malignancies. Transplant infectious disease remains a key to the clinical and scientific investigation of organ transplantation.

Keywords: clinical research/practice; complication: infectious; fungal; immunosuppression/immune modulation; infection and infectious agents; infectious disease; microbiomics; organ transplantation in general; viral.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Graft Rejection / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Infections / etiology*
  • Kidney Diseases / microbiology
  • Kidney Diseases / surgery*
  • Kidney Diseases / virology
  • Kidney Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Risk Factors