Steroid-resistant renal allograft rejections are commonly treated with rabbit antithymocyte globulin (RATG), but alemtuzumab could be an effective, safe and more convenient alternative. Adult patients with steroid-resistant renal allograft rejection treated with alemtuzumab (15-30 mg s.c. on 2 subsequent days) from 2008 to 2012 (n = 11) were compared to patients treated with RATG (2.5-4.0 mg/kg bodyweight i.v. for 10-14 days; n = 20). We assessed treatment-failure (graft loss, lack of improvement of graft function or need for additional anti-rejection treatment), infections during the first 3 months after treatment and infusion-related side effects. In both groups, the median time-interval between rejection and transplantation was 2 weeks, and approximately 75% of rejections were classified as Banff-IIA or higher. Three alemtuzumab-treated patients (27%) experienced treatment failure, compared to eight RATG treated patients (40%, p = 0.70). There was no difference in the incidence of infections. There were mild infusion-related side-effects in three alemtuzumab-treated patients (27%), and more severe infusion-related side effects in 17 RATG-treated patients (85%, p = 0.013). Drug related costs of alemtuzumab-treatment were lower than of RATG-treatment (€1050 vs. €2024; p < 0.01). Alemtuzumab might be an effective therapy for steroid-resistant renal allograft rejections. In contrast to RATG, alemtuzumab is nearly devoid of infusion-related side-effects. These data warrant a prospective trial. The authors show that alemtuzumab might be equally effective and as safe as antithymocyte globulin for the treatment of steroid-resistant renal allograft rejections, but with a significantly lower incidence of infusion-related side effects, the possibility to administer alemtuzumab subcutaneously, and lower costs. See editorial by Kirk on page 9.

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American Journal of Transplantation
Department of Internal Medicine

van den Hoogen, M.W.F, Hesselink, D.A, van Son, W.J, Weimar, W, & Hilbrands, L.B. (2013). Treatment of steroid-resistant acute renal allograft rejection with alemtuzumab. American Journal of Transplantation, 13(1), 192–196. doi:10.1111/j.1600-6143.2012.04328.x