Novel ways to monitor immunosuppression in pediatric kidney transplant recipients : underlying concepts and emerging data

After pediatric kidney transplantation, immunosuppressive therapy is given to avoid acute and chronic rejections. However, the immunosuppression causes an increased risk of severe viral complications and bacterial infections and is associated with serious side effects. It is therefore crucial to achieve the optimal individual balance between over- and under-immunosuppression and thereby avoid unnecessary exposure to immunosuppressive drugs. In routine use, steering of immunosuppressants is performed primarily by monitoring of trough levels that mirror pharmacokinetics (although not, however, pharmacodynamics). Other diagnostic and prognostic markers to assess the individual intensity of immunosuppression are missing. Potential methods to determine immune function and grade of immunosuppression, such as analysis of the torque teno virus (TTV) load, QuantiFERON Monitor®, and ImmuKnow® as well as virus-specific T cells (Tvis), are currently being evaluated. In some studies TTV load, QuantiFERON Monitor® and ImmuKnow® were associated with the risk for post-transplant rejections and infections, but randomized controlled trials after pediatric kidney transplantation are not available. Post-transplant monitoring of Tvis levels seem to be promising because Tvis control virus replication and have been shown to correlate with virus-specific as well as general cellular immune defense, which represents the individual’s susceptibility to infections. Additional Tvis-monitoring provides an innovative opportunity to personalize the antiviral management and the dosing of the immunosuppressive therapy after pediatric kidney transplantation to avoid unnecessary therapeutic interventions and identify over-immunosuppression.


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