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Gene pattern may identify kidney transplant recipients who don't need life-long anti-rejection drugs
Date:5/24/2010

individual's ability to fight infections, and sometimes leading to diseases related to a weakened immune system, such as cancer. The drugs also have other severe side effects such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, as well as swelling, weight gain, and excessive hair growth and acne that many people find intolerable.

In rare cases, a physician may stop a transplant recipient's immunosuppressive drugs because of a serious medical problem such as cancer or life-threatening infection. In other cases, transplant recipients decide to reduce or stop immunosuppressive therapy against their physicians' advice, even though by doing so, they risk losing their transplanted organ. However, in a very small percentage of such cases, rejection does not occur after the drugs are stopped.

This study included 25 kidney transplant recipients who had ceased taking their immunosuppressive drugs of their own accord and yet had retained normal kidney function for more than one year. The researchers compared this group with two other groups: recipients who were still taking their immunosuppressive medication and had healthy kidneys, and healthy, non-transplant controls.

The team examined blood samples taken from participants in each of the three groups. They analyzed the gene expression of the cells in whole blood and observed that the transplant recipients who were not taking medication had a distinct pattern of genes expressed by B cells, a type of white blood cell. This pattern differed from those seen in participants who were still on immunosuppressive therapy and in non-transplant healthy control subjects. Further study identified a pattern of expression of three B cell genes that was far more common in patients who had stopped taking their medications yet maintained good graft function.

White blood cells include T and B cells. Recent studies of immune tolerance have focused on the role of a subset of T cells, called regulatory T cel
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Contact: Julie Wu
wujuli@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Source:Eurekalert

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