BACKGROUND: Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) is still the main complication after lung transplantation. Besides other improvements in post-operative management, newer immunosuppressive regimens might decrease the devastating sequelae of this complication.
METHODS: We compared the prospectively collected data of lung transplant recipients treated either with azathioprine (AZA; n = 48) or mycophenolate mofetil (MMF; n = 108), who underwent regular monthly surveillance bronchoscopies for at least 6 post-operative months.
RESULTS: Patients on MMF had significantly fewer acute (P < 0.001) and recurrent (P < 0.001), as well as less severe rejection episodes (P = 0.01). In addition, MMF significantly reduced the number of alveolar lymphocytes, eosinophils and neutrophils (P < 0.001), and decreased the hemosiderin score reflecting non-specific alveolar-capillary damage (P < 0.001). Although there was no change in the three stages of BOS, there was a trend towards improved survival (P = 0.062) and a significant decrease in graft loss due to BOS (P = 0.049) in patients receiving MMF.
CONCLUSIONS: Immunosuppression with MMF significantly decreased the incidence, severity and recurrence of acute rejection episodes in lung transplant recipients. Parameters of alveolar inflammation and alveolar-capillary damage were also decreased. As a potential consequence, MMF significantly reduced graft loss due to BOS and tended to improve overall survival in these patients.
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