Background. Cytokines are important mediators of the complex process of extravasation and influx of peripheral mononuclear cells into a site of graft injury, an action that may be affected by the immunosuppressive regimen. The aim of this study was to compare the effect of different immunosuppressive regimens on cytokine expression in the grafted lung. Methods. We analyzed the cytokine profiles in broncho-alveolar lavage fluid (BAL-F) from 18 lung transplanted patients undergoing a shift from a cyclosporine- to a tacrolimus-based triple therapy regimen due to refractory acute rejection. Results. Three months after the conversion to tacrolimus, BAL-F levels of interleukin 8 (IL8), IL18, IL12 and IL10 were not significantly different than those measured before conversion. In contrast, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) levels showed a significant and sustained decrease in BAL-F during tacrolimus therapy. In addition the levels of gamma interferon (IFN-γ) in the BAL-F were decreased albeit not significantly. Conclusion. These findings suggest that the clinical and functional stabilization of patients observed after conversion to a tacrolimus based regimen, may be due, at least in part, to the induced down-regulation of MCP-1 production.
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