TitleLocal injections of tacrolimus-loaded hydrogel reduce systemic immunosuppression-related toxicity in vascularized composite allotransplantation.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsDzhonova DV, Olariu R, Leckenby J, Banz Y, Prost J-C, Dhayani A, Vemula PK, Voegelin E, Taddeo A, Rieben R
Date Published2018 May 23

BACKGROUND: Routine application of vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA) is hampered by immunosuppression-related health comorbidities. To mitigate these we developed an inflammation-responsive hydrogel for local immunosuppression. Here we report on its long-term effect on graft survival, immunological and toxicological impact.

METHODS: Brown Norway-to-Lewis rat hind limb transplantations were treated either systemically with daily injections of 1 mg/kg tacrolimus or with subcutaneous intragraft injections of hydrogel containing 7 mg tacrolimus, every 70 days. Animals were monitored for rejection or other pathology for 280 days. Systemic and graft tacrolimus levels, regulatory T cells, and donor cell chimerism were measured periodically. At endpoint, markers for kidney, liver and metabolic state were compared to naïve age-matched rats.

RESULTS: Both daily systemic tacrolimus and subcutaneous intragraft tacrolimus hydrogel at 70 day intervals were able to sustain graft survival for >280 days in 5 out of 6 recipients. In the hydrogel group, 1 graft progressed to grade 3 rejection at postoperative day (POD) 149. In systemic tacrolimus group, 1 animal was euthanized due to lymphoma on POD 275. Hydrogel treatment provided stable graft- and reduced systemic tacrolimus levels, and a 4 times smaller total tacrolimus dose compared with systemic immunosuppression. Hydrogel-treated animals showed preserved kidney function, absence of malignancies or opportunistic infections and increased hematopoietic chimerism compared to systemic immunosuppression.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate that localized immunosuppression with tacrolimus hydrogel is a long-term safe and reliable treatment. It may reduce the burden of systemic immunosuppression in VCA, potentially boosting the clinical application of this surgical intervention.

Alternate JournalTransplantation
PubMed ID29794937