Methotrexate for lung transplant recipients with steroid-resistant acute rejection

B. C. Cahill, M. K. O'Rourke, K. A. Strasburg, K. Savik, J. Jessurun, R. M. Bolman, M. I. Hertz

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Background: Steroid-resistant or recurrent acute rejection is a risk factor for the development of chronic graft failure in lung transplant recipients. The best treatment for these patients is not known. Methotrexate has been used successfully in heart transplant recipients with persistent or recurrent acute rejection. This study was performed to evaluate the efficacy of methotrexate in lung transplant recipients with steroid-resistant acute rejection. Methods: From January 1991 to December 1995, 12 patients with steroid-resistant acute rejection were treated with methotrexate given weekly for 6 weeks and dose-adjusted according to laboratory data and clinical side effects. After completion of therapy, all patients underwent transbronchial biopsy to evaluate the efficacy of methotrexate treatment. Results: Twelve patients underwent treatment with methotrexate for steroid-resistant acute rejection. Acute rejection resolved in all patients completing at least 4 weeks of therapy; 10 of 12 patients (83%) had no further episodes of acute rejection during a mean follow-up period of 12.5 months (range 1 to 42 months). Acute rejection recurred in two patients 6 and 16 months after methotrexate therapy. Both resolved with high-dose corticosteroid therapy. One patient had asymptomatic cytomegalovirus shedding 8 weeks after completion of methotrexate therapy. One patient had aseptic meningitis after her fourth dose of methotrexate. Neither infectious complication was associated with neutropenia. One patient had bone marrow suppression and neutropenic fevers after augmentation of her methotrexate dose. Two patients received shortened methotrexate courses because of gastrointestinal side effects. Conclusions: Methotrexate is efficacious in the treatment of lung transplant recipients with steroid-resistant acute rejection. Patients must be monitored for side effects during therapy and dosing must be individualized based on laboratory and clinical parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1130-1137
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1996


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