Alemtuzumab induction combined with reduced maintenance immunosuppression is associated with improved outcomes after lung transplantation: A single centre experience

PLoS One. 2019 Jan 15;14(1):e0210443. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0210443. eCollection 2019.


Question addressed by the study: The value of induction therapy in lung transplantation is controversial. According to the ISHLT, only about 50% of patients transplanted within the last 10 years received induction therapy. We reviewed our institutional experience to investigate the impact of induction therapy on short- and long-term outcomes.

Materials/patients and methods: Between 2007 and 2015, 446 patients with a complete follow-up were included in this retrospective analysis. Analysis comprised long-term kidney function, infectious complications, incidence of rejection and overall survival.

Results: A total of 231 patients received alemtuzumab, 50 patients antithymocyte globulin (ATG) and 165 patients did not receive induction therapy (NI). The alemtuzumab group revealed the lowest rate of chronic kidney insufficiency (NI: 52.2%; ATG: 60%; alemtuzumab: 36.6%; p = 0.001). Both, the NI group (p<0.001) and the ATG group (p = 0.010) showed a significant increase of serum creatinine during follow-up compared to alemtuzumab patients. Furthermore, alemtuzumab group experienced the lowest rate of infection in the first year after transplantation. Finally, improved survival, low rates of acute cellular rejection (ACR), lymphocytic bronchiolitis (LB) and chronic lung allograft dysfunction (CLAD) were found in patients treated either with alemtuzumab or ATG.

Conclusion: Alemtuzumab induction therapy followed by reduced maintenance immunosuppression is associated with a better kidney function compared to no induction and ATG. Survival rate as well as freedom from ACR and CLAD were comparable between alemtuzumab and ATG.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alemtuzumab / therapeutic use*
  • Antilymphocyte Serum / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological / therapeutic use
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Graft Survival / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Induction Chemotherapy / methods
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Lung Transplantation / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult


  • Antilymphocyte Serum
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Alemtuzumab
  • Creatinine

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.