Immunosuppressive Drugs

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The Use of Immunosuppressive Drugs
In Organ Transplants
Chelsae Smith

Abstract
The use of immunosuppressive drugs in the organ transplant setting has become vital to the survival of the patient. This paper will discuss the importance of immunosuppressive drugs through the stages of induction therapy, maintenance therapy, and treatment of acute rejection. Categories of immunosuppressive drugs will be discussed in terms of each category’s action of stopping the acute rejection. Acute rejection will also be researched in order to better understand which immunosuppressive drug will intervene the rejection process and where. The purpose of the immune system in comparison to the purpose of immunosuppressive drugs will be compared; the immunosuppressive drugs leave the body defenseless. However despite the downsides to immunosuppressive, emphasis will be shown to the importance of immunosuppressive drugs on the length, and quality of a transplant recipient’s life.

The Use of Immunosuppressive Drugs
In Organ Transplants
The body is similar to a soldier; it is programmed to recognize any threats to itself in order to defend itself from these things. Skin surrounds the body like a shield of armor, preventing anything unwanted from entering. What does manage to infiltrate the body will be examined by the immune system, then determined to be an ally or enemy. When a breach of security is detected, weapons are at the body’s disposal like any soldier. Cells, antibodies, macrophages and lymphocytes are simply a preview to the large arsenal the body contains. If recognized as a threat, the body will do anything in its power to destroy this substance and protect itself. Unfortunately for organ transplant recipients, transplants also fall into the category of a potential threat to the body. Transplants will trigger a natural response from the immune system to eliminate or neutralize the graft, a process known as rejection (Hoffman, Nelson, Drangstveit, Flynn, Watercott, and Zirbes 2006). Drugs known as immunosuppressive drugs are used to counter this process by weakening the immune system. Immunosuppressive drugs are essential to organ transplants and can be broken down into three types of therapy: induction, maintenance and rejection.

Induction therapy utilizes immunosuppressive drugs before and immediately after the transplant of an organ, or graft, to lessen the odds of acute rejection. Organ transplantation is the treatment of choice for patients with end stage organ failure (Hoffman et al. 2006). Aside from the emotional burden of the patient or the recipient’s medical condition, and the vexatious process of waiting lists, to receive an organ transplant, getting the body to comply with the organ itself is another story. The immune system response must be suppressed in order to prevent the occurrence of an occurrence immune system response against the allograft that is being recognized as “non-self” (Israeli, Yussim, Mor, Sredni, and Klein 2007). The risk of acute rejection is highest in the first 3 months after transplantation (Hoffman et al. 2006). Since the transplant is new to the body, and the risk for acute rejection is very high, the dosage of immunosuppressive drugs is very aggressive. The goal of using immunosuppressive drugs before and after the transplant procedure is to weaken the body’s immune system, making it unable to detect and attack the graft. This process can be seen as “blind-folding” the immune system, allowing he graft to “sneak” into the body and begin functioning. Although these drugs are not 100% effective, they serve as a symbol of hope for organ transplant recipients. Immunosuppressive drugs are continually administered to the transplant recipient for the continuance of their lives; however, dosage is greatly different depending on the state of their transplant.

Induction therapy is beginning to expand to prevention, as well as treatment with immunosuppressive drugs....
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