Rabbit antithymocyte globulin as induction immunotherapy in pediatric heart transplantation.
ABSTRACT There is little published data on the use of antithymocyte globulins in children. This retrospective study describes the use of Thymoglobulin (Imtix, SangStat, Lyon, France) in pediatric cardiac transplantation over a 13-year period in a single center that adjusted the dose of Thymoglobulin according to platelet count monitoring and examines the short-term hematological effects as well as longer-term outcomes.
Data for all children who received a heart transplant at the Hôpital Cardiologique at Lyon from 1984 to 2001 and who were given Thymoglobulin as part of their immunosuppressive protocol were extracted. The dose of Thymoglobulin given depended on baseline platelet count and was 2, 1.5, or 1 mg/kg per day over 5 days for the following platelet count groups: greater than 150,000/mm (normal group), 100 to 150,000/mm (mild thrombocytopenia group), and 50 to 100,000/mm (moderate thrombocytopenia group).
Thirty children of median age 14.2 years were given a median cumulative dose of Thymoglobulin of 8 mg/kg per patient; the moderate thrombocytopenia subgroup was given significantly less (6.4 mg/kg) ( P=0.032). Immediate tolerability of Thymoglobulin was good, with no cases of first-dose syndrome, anaphylaxis, or serum sickness. The platelet count decreased at the start of therapy, but recovered after discontinuation, and did not give rise to clinical concern. Patients were followed up for a median of 6.3 years (7 days-15.5 years); actuarial survival was 90%, 86%, and 74.5%, respectively, at 1, 5, and 10 years. In the first year, 50% of patients suffered an episode of rejection. The overall incidence of infection in the month following transplantation was 40%. One lymphoma occurred at 5 months.
The use of Thymoglobulin in pediatric heart-transplant patients as part of an immunosuppressive protocol, with dose adjustment according to platelet levels, has been shown to be effective in terms of rejection rate and patient survival and safe in terms of the incidence of infections and malignancy.