71 transplant recipients were involved in research reported to Transplant 2001, the meeting of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons held in Chicago, USA.
Rabbit ATG is currently indicated for use with steroids in the treatment of acute organ rejection.
But the use of steroids is associated with increased levels of infections, diabetes, and the recurrence of hepatitis C infection.
ATG plus steroids: 30%
ATG minus steroids: 20%
The research showed the incidence of rejection decreased when steroids were not used, as did the risk of other complications.
Of the patients on the steroid-free treatment, 50% developed HCV infection and 4% developed diabetes. This contrasted with 70% and 14% incidence rates, respectively, among patients given steroids.
Rejection rates fell from 30% to 20% on the steroid-free treatment.
Researcher Dr James Eason, of the Ochsner Multi-Organ Transplant Center, New Orleans, USA, said, "This study shows that a steroid-free regimen, using low-dose thymoglobulin induction, may decrease the risk for diabetes, infection, and hepatitis C among patients who have undergone liver transplants, in addition to decreasing the incidence of rejection."
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