Low-dose RATG with or without basiliximab in renal transplantation: A matched-cohort observational study

Giorgio Gentile, Chiara Somma, Alessia Gennarini, Daniela Mastroluca, Giovanni Rota, Francesco Lacanna, Bruno Locatelli, Giuseppe Remuzzi, Piero Ruggenenti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/Aims: In renal transplantation, peri-operative low-dose rabbit-antithymocyte-globulin (RATG) plus basiliximab induction prevented acute allograft rejection more effectively than post-operative RATG plus basiliximab induction. We investigated the specific antirejection contribution of basiliximab in this context. Methods: This single-center, observational, matched-cohort study evaluated allograft rejections (primary outcome), steroid exposure and side effects, GFR (iohexol plasma clearance) and treatment costs in 16 deceased-donor renal transplant recipients induced with RATG (0.5 mg/kg/day) and 32 age-, gender- and treatment-matched reference-patients given RATG plus basiliximab (20 mg on days 0 and 4). Results: Induction was well tolerated. At 18 months, 8 patients (50%) vs. 3 reference-patients (9.4%) rejected the graft [HR (95% CI): 6.53 (1.73-24.70), p = 0.006]. Difference was significant (p <0.01) even after adjusting for recipient/donor age and gender, cold ischemia time and HLA mismatches. There were 1 antibody-mediated rejection and 2 moderate cellular rejections in patients vs. none in reference-patients (p = 0.032). The median (interquartile range) prednisone cumulative dose was remarkably higher in patients than reference-patients [4.78 (1.12-6.10) vs. 0.19 (0.18-3.81) grams, p = 0.002]. Three patients vs. 24 reference-patients were off-steroid at study end (p <0.001). Three patients vs. no reference-patient developed new-onset diabetes (p = 0.003). Both inductions similarly depleted B-cells. Outcomes of AZA- vs. MMF-treated participants were similar. GFR was similar in all groups. Compared to MMF, AZA therapy saved ≈ EUR 2,500/year and by month 14.3 post-transplant compensated basiliximab costs. Conclusion: In renal transplantation, basiliximab plus peri-operative low-dose RATG more efficiently prevented allograft rejection than RATG monotherapy, and minimized steroid exposure and toxicity. AZA- vs MMF-based maintenance immunosuppression largely compensated the extra costs of basiliximab.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-27
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Nephrology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 19 2015


  • Basiliximab
  • Graft rejection
  • Induction
  • Kidney transplantation
  • Minimization
  • Steroid withdrawal
  • Thymoglobulin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology
  • Medicine(all)


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