Induction therapy in heart transplantation: A systematic review and network meta-analysis for developing evidence-based recommendations

Clin Transplant. 2024 May;38(5):e15326. doi: 10.1111/ctr.15326.


Introduction: Induction therapy (IT) utility in heart transplantation (HT) remains contested. Commissioned by a clinical-practice guidelines panel to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of IT in adult HT patients, we conducted this systematic review and network meta-analysis (NMA).

Methods: We searched for studies from January 2000 to October 2022, reporting on the use of any IT agent in adult HT patients. Based on patient-important outcomes, we performed frequentist NMAs separately for RCTs and observational studies with adjusted analyses, and assessed the certainty of evidence using the GRADE framework.

Results: From 5156 publications identified, we included 7 RCTs and 12 observational studies, and report on two contemporarily-used IT agents-basiliximab and rATG. The RCTs provide only very low certainty evidence and was uninformative of the effect of the two agents versus no IT or one another. With low certainty in the evidence from observational studies, basiliximab may increase 30-day (OR 1.13; 95% CI 1.06-1.20) and 1-year (OR 1.11; 95% CI 1.02-1.22) mortality compared to no IT. With low certainty from observational studies, rATG may decrease 5-year cardiac allograft vasculopathy (OR .82; 95% CI .74-.90) compared to no IT, as well as 30-day (OR .85; 95% CI .80-.92), 1-year (OR .87; 95% CI .79-.96), and overall (HR .84; 95% CI .76-.93) mortality compared to basiliximab.

Conclusion: With low and very low certainty in the synthetized evidence, these NMAs suggest possible superiority of rATG compared to basiliximab, but do not provide compelling evidence for the routine use of these agents in HT recipients.

Keywords: Immunosuppressant; fusion proteins and monoclonal antibodies: basiliximab/daclizumab; immunosuppressant; immunosuppressive regimens; induction; polyclonal preparations: rabbit antithymocyte globulin.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Graft Rejection* / etiology
  • Graft Rejection* / prevention & control
  • Graft Survival / drug effects
  • Heart Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Induction Chemotherapy
  • Network Meta-Analysis
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards
  • Prognosis


  • Immunosuppressive Agents