Kidney transplantation represents a major medical victory in patients with whom dialysis and medical therapy have failed. To increase survival rates and optimize the use of limited organs, both patient care and immunosuppression therapy must be improved. Reduction in rejection episodes or severity of rejection may ultimately improve long-term allograft survival. Traditional engineered monoclonal antibodies have been associated with severe cytokine release reactions and an increased risk of opportunistic infections. Basiliximab and daclizumab are chimeric and humanized monoclonal antibodies which inhibit thymus-dependent lymphocyte proliferation. Interleukin-2 also affects the proliferation of natural killer cells, macrophages and monocytes, bursa-equivalent lymphocytes, epidermal dendritic cells, and lymphokine-activated killer cells. Interleukin-2 receptor antagonists have been shown to reduce the incidence of acute rejection without increasing the incidence of opportunistic infections or malignancy. Further studies are needed to evaluate the overall effect of these agents on long-term patient and allograft survival.
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