From immunosuppression to tolerance

David H Adams, Alberto Sanchez-Fueyo, Didier Samuel

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74 Citations (Scopus)


The past three decades have seen liver transplantation becoming a major therapeutic approach in the management of end-stage liver diseases. This is due to the dramatic improvement in survival after liver transplantation as a consequence of the improvement of surgical and anaesthetic techniques, of post-transplant medico-surgical management and of prevention of disease recurrence and other post-transplant complications. Improved use of post-transplant immunosuppression to prevent acute and chronic rejection is a major factor in these improved results. The liver has been shown to be more tolerogenic than other organs, and matching of donor and recipients is mainly limited to ABO blood group compatibility. However, long-term immunosuppression is required to avoid severe acute and chronic rejection and graft loss. With the current immunosuppression protocols, the risk of acute rejection requiring additional therapy is 10-40% and the risk of chronic rejection is below 5%. However, the development of histological lesions in the graft in long-term survivors suggest atypical forms of graft rejection may develop as a consequence of under-immunosuppression. The backbone of immunosuppression remains calcineurin inhibitors (CNI) mostly in association with steroids in the short-term and mycophenolate mofetil or mTOR inhibitors (everolimus). The occurrence of post-transplant complications related to the immunosuppressive therapy has led to the development of new protocols aimed at protecting renal function and preventing the development of de novo cancer and of dysmetabolic syndrome. However, there is no new class of immunosuppressive drugs in the pipeline able to replace current protocols in the near future. The aim of a full immune tolerance of the graft is rarely achieved since only 20% of selected patients can be weaned successfully off immunosuppression. In the future, immunosuppression will probably be more case oriented aiming to protect the graft from rejection and at reducing the risk of disease recurrence and complications related to immunosuppressive therapy. Such approaches will include strategies aiming to promote stable long-term immunological tolerance of the liver graft.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S170-85
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Issue number1 Suppl
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2015 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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