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Analysis of malignancies in patients after heart transplantation with subsequent immunosuppressive therapy

Authors Rivinius R, Helmschrott M, Ruhparwar A, Schmack B, Klein B, Erbel C, Gleissner CA, Akhavanpoor M, Frankenstein L, Darche FF, Thomas D, Ehlermann P, Bruckner T, Katus HA, Doesch A

Received 7 October 2014

Accepted for publication 31 October 2014

Published 17 December 2014 Volume 2015:9 Pages 93—102

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/DDDT.S75464

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 6

Editor who approved publication: Professor Shu-Feng Zhou


Rasmus Rivinius,1 Matthias Helmschrott,1 Arjang Ruhparwar,2 Bastian Schmack,2 Berthold Klein,2 Christian Erbel,1 Christian A Gleissner,1 Mohammadreza Akhavanpoor,1 Lutz Frankenstein,1 Fabrice F Darche,1 Dierk Thomas,1 Philipp Ehlermann,1 Tom Bruckner,3 Hugo A Katus,1 Andreas O Doesch1

1Department of Cardiology, Angiology and Pneumology, 2Department of Cardiac Surgery, 3Institute for Medical Biometry and Informatics, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany


Objective: The aim of this study was to analyze the distribution of malignancies in patients after heart transplantation (HTX) and to evaluate the risk factors including immunosuppressive therapy with regard to the development of malignancies and survival. Special emphasis was placed on the effects of a mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) containing immunosuppressive regimen.
Methods: A total of 381 patients (age ≥18 years) receiving HTX were included in the present analysis. All patients were followed-up at the University of Heidelberg Heart Center, Heidelberg, Germany. Data were retrieved from the Heidelberg Registry for Heart Transplantation being collected between 1989 and 2014. According to center standard, all patients received induction therapy with anti-thymocyte globulin guided by T-cell monitoring since 1994. The initial immunosuppressive regimen consisting of cyclosporine A (CsA) and azathioprine (AZA) was replaced by CsA and mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) in 2001 and by tacrolimus (TAC) and MMF in 2006. Additionally, mTOR inhibitors (everolimus/sirolimus) were applied since 2003.
Results: Mean recipient age at HTX was 51.2±10.5 years and the mean follow-up period after HTX was 9.7±5.9 years. During follow-up, 130 patients developed a neoplasm (34.1% of total). Subgroup analysis revealed 58 patients with cutaneous malignancy only (15.2%), 56 patients with noncutaneous malignancy only (14.7%), and 16 patients with both cutaneous and noncutaneous malignancy (4.2%). Statistically significant risk factors associated with an increased risk of malignancy after HTX were older age (P<0.0001), male recipients (P=0.0008), dyslipidemia (P=0.0263), diabetes mellitus (P=0.0003), renal insufficiency (P=0.0247), and >1 treated rejection episode (TRE) in the first year after HTX (P=0.0091). Administration of CsA (P=0.0195), AZA (P=0.0008), or steroids (P=0.0018) for >1 year after HTX was associated with increased development of malignancy, whereas administration of MMF (P<0.0001) or mTOR inhibitors (P<0.0001) was associated with a lower risk for development of malignancy. Additionally, 5-year follow-up of cutaneous malignancy recurrence (P=0.0065) and noncutaneous malignancy mortality (P=0.0011) was significantly lower in patients receiving an mTOR inhibitor containing therapy after the development of a malignancy.
Conclusion: This study highlights the complexity of risk factors including immunosuppression with regard to the development of malignancies after HTX. mTOR-inhibitor-based immunosuppression is associated with a better outcome after HTX, particularly in cases with noncutaneous malignancy.

Keywords: immunosuppression, risk factors, cyclosporine A, tacrolimus, azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil, mTOR inhibitor, steroids

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