Mycophenolate mofetil superior to azathioprine: Slows vascular disease progression after transplant

Researchers reported today that patients treated with CellCept (mycophenolate mofetil), a drug used to prevent rejection in organ transplantation, have significantly lower progression of intimal thickening, or thickening of the inner artery walls, compared with azathioprine (AZA). Intimal thickening is becoming increasingly important as a surrogate marker for long-term outcomes after heart transplantation. The study used intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) to measure intimal thickening in heart transplant patients immediately after surgery and one year later.

"These findings support published registry data that show significantly increased survival rates in CellCept-treated patients at three years," said Jon A. Kobashigawa, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center, and lead investigator of the study.

"Intimal thickening, as measured by IVUS, is a key indicator of vascular disease progression. These important data therefore confirm that heart transplant patients treated with CellCept have significantly less progression of intimal thickening than those treated with AZA. The prospect of achieving better long-term outcomes by slowing the progression of vascular disease is a significant benefit for transplant patients and the surgeons who treat them."

In the CellCept-treated group, only 23% of patients had an increase in intimal thickness of > 0.3mm versus 43% of patients treated with AZA. Studies have shown that patients with changes in intimal thickening of more than 0.3mm are more likely to have poor outcomes, such as myocardial infarction, organ failure and death.

Presented at the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation scientific sessions, the study used a more modern and clinically relevant site-to-site IVUS analysis of heart transplant patients to reanalyze intimal thickness in patients in the pivotal CellCept trial published in 1998.

The an

Contact: Lauren Mason
International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation

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