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BACKGROUND: Calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs) reduce short-term kidney transplant failure, but might contribute to transplant failure in the long-term. The role of alemtuzumab (a potent lymphocyte-depleting antibody) as an induction treatment followed by an early reduction in CNI and mycophenolate exposure and steroid avoidance, after kidney transplantation is uncertain. We aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of alemtuzumab-based induction treatment compared with basiliximab-based induction treatment in patients receiving kidney transplants. METHODS: For this randomised trial, we enrolled patients aged 18 years and older who were scheduled to receive a kidney transplant in the next 24 h from 18 transplant centres in the UK. Using minimised randomisation, we randomly assigned patients (1:1; minimised for age, sex, and immunological risk) to either alemtuzumab-based induction treatment (ie, alemtuzumab followed by low-dose tacrolimus and mycophenolate without steroids) or basiliximab-based induction treatment (basiliximab followed by standard-dose tacrolimus, mycophenolate, and prednisolone). Participants were reviewed at discharge from hospital and at 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after transplantation. The primary outcome was biopsy-proven acute rejection at 6 months, analysed by intention to treat. The study is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01120028, and isrctn.org, number ISRCTN88894088. FINDINGS: Between Oct 4, 2010, and Jan 21, 2013, we randomly assigned 852 participants to treatment: 426 to alemtuzumab-based treatment and 426 to basiliximab-based treatment. Overall, individuals allocated to alemtuzumab-based treatment had a 58% proportional reduction in biopsy-proven acute rejection compared with those allocated to basiliximab-based treatment (31 [7%] patients in the alemtuzumab group vs 68 [16%] patients in the basiliximab group; hazard ratio (HR) 0·42, 95% CI 0·28-0·64; log-rank p<0·0001). We detected no between-group difference in treatment effect on transplant failure during the first 6 months (16 [4%] patients vs 13 [3%] patients; HR 1·23, 0·59-2·55; p=0·58) or serious infection (135 [32%] patients vs 136 [32%] patients; HR 1·02, 0·80-1·29; p=0·88). During the first 6 months after transplantation, 11 (3%) patients given alemtuzumab-based treatment and six (1%) patients given basiliximab-based treatment died (HR 1·79, 95% CI 0·66-4·83; p=0·25). INTERPRETATION: Compared with standard basiliximab-based treatment, alemtuzumab-based induction therapy followed by reduced CNI and mycophenolate exposure and steroid avoidance reduced the risk of biopsy-proven acute rejection in a broad range of patients receiving a kidney transplant. Long-term follow-up of this trial will assess whether these effects translate into differences in long-term transplant function and survival. FUNDING: UK National Health Service Blood and Transplant Research and Development Programme, Pfizer, and Novartis UK.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61095-3

Type

Journal article

Journal

Lancet

Publication Date

08/11/2014

Volume

384

Pages

1684 - 1690

Keywords

Adult, Alemtuzumab, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized, Female, Graft Rejection, Humans, Immunosuppressive Agents, Kidney Transplantation, Male, Opportunistic Infections, Recombinant Fusion Proteins