Pharmacogenetics of immunosuppressants: Progress, pitfalls and promises

D. Cattaneo, S. Baldelli, N. Perico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most of the immunosuppressants used in organ transplantation are characterized by a narrow therapeutic index, whereby underdosing is associated with increased risk of rejection episodes and overdosing may exacerbate drug-related toxicity. Pharmacogenetics - complementary to pharmacokinetics - holds the potential to allow individualized dosing of immunosuppressive agents to optimize their therapeutic actions while minimizing adverse effects. Most of the studies have focused on polymorphisms of genes involved in drug metabolism and distribution, but as of now, only thiopurine-S-methyltransferase and cytochrome P 450 3A5 genotypes appear to have sufficiently large influence to have potentialities in guiding drug dosing. This may reflect the fact that available information from other polymorphisms derives almost exclusively from retrospective observations or from studies with important methodological biases. Active investigations aimed at identifying allelic variants of gene encoding for the pharmacologic targets are now ongoing. Recent studies have demonstrated that also donor genotype may play a significant role in immunosuppressive drug pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. As one of the main future tasks, it is mandatory to develop mathematical models able to incorporate multiple gene polymorphisms with pharmacokinetic data and other critical information, providing algorithms able to individualize the best immunosuppressive therapy for each patient before transplantation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1374-1383
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Transplantation
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008


  • Organ transplantation
  • Pharmacodynamics of immunosuppressants
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Pharmacokinetics of immunosuppressive agents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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