Coronary atherosclerosis in cardiac transplant patients treated with total lymphoid irradiation

Marc P. Pelletier, Michael A. Coady, Mahender Macha, Philip E. Oyer, Robert C. Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Multiple episodes of rejection following cardiac transplantation have been associated with an increased incidence of coronary atherosclerosis. Total lymphoid irradiation (TLI) has been shown to be a successful treatment for persistent allograft rejection, but its effect on coronary arterial disease has yet to be evaluated. Methods: From 1987 to 1999, 40 patients required TLI for persistent or recurrent allograft rejection following heart transplantation. Each patient's (Group 1, n = 31) post-transplant coronary angiograms were examined and compared with those of a control group (Group 2, (n = 32) matched for time of transplantation. Degree of coronary stenosis was assessed on a 6-point scale. All patients received induction therapy (rabbit anti-thymocyte globulin or OKT3) and standard triple immunosuppressive therapy. TLI (80 cGy × 10 fractions) was used for the treatment of recurrent or persistent rejection on the basis of clinical indications. Actuarial survival, number and treatment of rejection episodes, and severity of coronary artery disease were compared in each group. Results: Recipient gender, age, race and cytomegalovirus (CMV) status at time of transplant, along with donor gender, CMV status and graft ischemia time, were similar in both groups. Group 1 donor age was younger than that of Group 2 (22.2 ± 11.2 vs 31.5 ± 13.6 years, p = 0.004), and the indication for surgery in Group 1 patients was more likely to be ischemic heart disease (15 of 31 vs 6 of 32, p = 0.02). Mean follow-up was 5.7 ± 3.5 years in Group 1 vs 6.9 ± 3.8 in Group 2 (p = NS). Group 1 had more rejection episodes (4.4 ± 2.2 vs 2.3 ± 2.0, p = 0.0002) and more steroid treatments (9.78 ± 4.0 g vs 5.14 ± 4.7 g, p < 0.0001), but less coronary artery disease compared with Group 2 (p = 0.035). Conclusions: Despite multiple episodes of rejection, patients treated with TLI after cardiac transplant appear to develop less coronary atherosclerosis than appropriately matched controls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-129
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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