Aerosol cyclosporine prevents acute allograft rejection in experimental lung transplantation

S. N. Mitruka, S. M. Pham, A. Zeevi, S. Li, J. Cai, G. J. Burckart, S. A. Yousem, R. J. Keenan, B. P. Griffith, N. K. Altorki, C. M. Wei, W. A. Cook, Robert Dowling

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35 Scopus citations


Background: The incidence of acute rejection and the morbidity of systemic cyclosporine (INN: ciclosporin) after lung transplantation is significant. Experimental evidence suggests that the allograft locally modulates the immune mechanisms of acute rejection. The purpose of this study was to determine whether aerosolized cyclosporine would prevent acute cellular rejection, achieve effective graft concentrations with low systemic drug delivery, and locally affect production of the inflammatory cytokines involved in acute rejection. Methods: Unilateral orthotopic left lung transplantation was performed in 64 rats (ACI to Lewis), which were divided into eight groups (each group, n = 8): group A, no treatment; groups B to D, aerosol cyclosporine 1 to 3 mg/kg per day, respectively; groups E to H, systemic cyclosporine 2, 5, 10, and 15 mg/kg per day, respectively. After the animals were killed on postoperative day 2, 4, or 6, the transplanted lung, native lung, spleen, and blood were collected. Histologic studies, high- pressure liquid chromatography for trough cyclosporine concentrations, and reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction for cytokine gene expression were performed. Results: Untreated animals showed grade 4 rejection by postoperative day 6. Aerosol cyclosporine prevented acute rejection in a dose-dependent fashion, with group D animals (3 mg/kg per day) showing minimal grade 1 changes. Among animals receiving systemic cyclosporine, only group H (15 mg/kg per day) controlled (grade 1) rejection. However, aerosol cyclosporine, at an 80% lower dose, achieved significantly lower concentrations of cyclosporine in the graft (12,349 vs 28,714 ng/mg, p = 0.002004) and blood (725 vs 3306 ng/ml, p = 0.000378). Group F (systemic 5 mg/kg per day) had higher cyclosporine concentrations in the blood than group D (p = 0.004572) and similar tissue concentrations (p = 0.115180), yet had grade 2 rejection. Reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction demonstrated equivalent suppression of inducible nitric oxide synthase but a 20- to 25-fold higher expression of interleukin-6, interleukin-10, and interferon-γ, in group D versus group H recipient allografts. Conclusion: Local delivery of cyclosporine by aerosol inhalation dose-dependently prevented acute pulmonary allograft rejection. Effective graft levels and low systemic drug delivery required significantly lower doses than systemic therapy alone. The gene expression of proinflammatory cytokines involved in allograft rejection was suppressed by aerosol cyclosporine therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-37
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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