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A Look at Kidney Rejection

Study compares transplant drugs

MONDAY, Nov. 4, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Cyclosporine is the most common medication used to fight organ rejection in kidney transplant patients, but it may not be the most effective drug and it may even damage some donor kidneys.

So says a study presented this weekend at the American Society of Nephrology's annual meeting in Philadelphia.

The study also identified another drug, rapamycin, that may be more effective at combating organ rejection in kidney transplant patients. These are preliminary findings from a study in rats.

Rapamycin is an immunosuppressant that controls the immune system differently than cyclosporine.

Study author Sharon Inman, an assistant professor of biomedical sciences at Ohio University, says the findings suggest large doses of cyclosporine could cause a drop in the rate at which the kidney filters blood and decrease blood flow to the kidney.

That could be particularly dangerous for people who receive what's referred to as a "marginal kidney", taken from a donor with high blood pressure or other health problems or from a donor without a beating heart.

These marginal kidneys may be more prone to ischemia-reperfusion injury. That refers to tissue damage that occurs when blood flow to an organ is stopped for a period of time and then started again. It's a common injury in all kidney transplants, but may be especially severe in people who receive marginal kidneys.

In her study, Inman found rat kidneys treated with cyclosporine did much worse than rat kidneys treated with rapamycin. The kidneys treated with cyclosporine suffered more restricted blood flow and poorer kidney filtration.

The rats in this study were monitored for five to seven days.

Last year, 14,152 people in the United States had a kidney transplant.

More information

Here's where to go to learn more about kidney transplant.

SOURCE: Ohio University, news release, Nov. 2, 2002
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